Govt blew R95m on aerospace village – DA

Govt blew R95m on aerospace village – DA

The department of trade and industry (DTI) has denied misappropriating R95 million meant for the development of the Centurion Aerospace Village, south of Pretoria.

DTI spokesperson Sidwell Medupe said allegations in this regard by the Democratic Alliance (DA) were “baseless”.

This after the DA accused the DTI last Thursday of squandering taxpayers’ money meant to build the village, Rekord Centurion reported.

The government had hoped building an aerospace village would grow the industry and make it internationally competitive by attracting manufacturers and suppliers to the area.

DA’s deputy economic development spokesperson Patrick Atkinson said he became aware of a crisis during a parliamentary oversight visit to Aerosud, an aircraft component entity, in January.

During this visit, members of parliament were then told about the village adjacent to Aerosud.

Atkinson said Aerosud was the first company to be built in the village, but this claim was later denied by one of Aerosud’s senior officials.

Medupe added Aerosud occupied a building in the village and had a lessor/lessee relationship with the village.

Atkinson said there were no buildings in the village since 2006.

According to Medupe, the DA made baseless allegations about the misuse of public money, the absence of buildings and inaccurate allegations about an investigation instituted by the department.

Medupe said the village was “fully operational”, with one aircraft component supplier.

The DA said the forensic report it received after making an application via the Promotion of Access into Information Act was censored and expurgated.

It alleged despite this cover-up, the report had shown R95 million was improperly used right under the DTI’s nose and R85 million of the R95 million had not been accounted for.

Atkinson also said the report uncovered tenders had been awarded without following the correct processes.

Medupe said: “The DTI has transferred R94 million to the village, of which R67 million has been utilised for bulk infrastructure and construction.”

He added the department commissioned a probe into irregularities in the construction of the village and had acted on its recommendations. He said disciplinary action was taken and a senior official was fired.

“The DTI intends to file criminal charges against the official to recover misused money,” he said, adding the village would appoint a CEO and an audit and risk committee to improve governance and oversight.

A private company was fingered in maladministration, but he would not identify the company as his department still had to prove its allegations in court, added Medupe.

He said all contracts with suppliers had been rescinded, pending the outcome of court proceedings.

Caxton News Service


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