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DA against proposed billion rand Parly upgrade

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The proposed upgrade to the Parliamentary Precinct at a cost of about R1.4 billion will be opposed by the Democratic Alliance, it said on Sunday.

“The national fiscus faces massive pressure and a rising deficit,” DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said in a statement.

“We can’t afford to splurge on unnecessary luxuries for Parliament.”

The Sunday Times reported National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise were planning on meeting Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in November to discuss new offices, apartments, dining halls and chambers for MPs.

The newspaper reported that Parliament’s new presiding officers wanted the plans to be implemented with immediate effect.

The plans included:

— a 1500-seater chamber with a banqueting hall to be exclusively used for joint sittings which would cost around R487 million;

— a 16,000 square metre office tower, restaurant and complex which would cost R312 million;

— a pavilion building and visitors’ centre at the cost of R68 million; and

— a R275 million three-level parking lot.

Modise reportedly said parliament was wasting money on renting hotel venues for committee meetings because Parliament had run out of space.

Steenhuisen said the 1500-seater hall would only be used occasionally when Parliament had joint sittings of the NCOP and the National Assembly.

“The current arrangement where the NCOP and National Assembly members simply share the space in the National Assembly is more than adequate.”

The DA also did not see the need for an apartment complex in the city centre to save on transport costs, an underground parking facility and additional restaurants in the precinct.

“The DA will oppose the upgrade at the [Parliamentary Oversight Authority].

“If the Speaker has any respect for Treasury’s call to tighten our belts, she will stop this wasteful proposal immediately.” SAPA

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