Par­lia­ment spends R46m on lap­tops, cell­phones and fur­ni­ture for MPs

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CAIPHUS KGOSANA

NEW MPs are per­form­ing their leg­isla­tive work in style thanks to Par­lia­ment spending R46 mil­lion on new lap­tops, print­ers, cell­phones and of­fice fur­ni­ture.

Each of the 400 MPs could choose from a range of three Hewlett-Packard lap­tops, whose prices range be­tween R18 000 and R23 000.

The lap­tops each have a dock­ing sta­tion, a 22-inch desk mon­i­tor with speaker bar, an ex­ter­nal hard-drive, we­b­cam and a se­cu­rity lock.

MPs also re­ceived HP LaserJet print­ers. The cheapest – a mo­bile printer – sells for R4 100 and the most ex­pen­sive – a colour LaserJet Printer – re­tails for R8 000.

MPs had a se­lec­tion of four cell­phones from which to choose: a Sam­sung OM­NIA I900 (R5 500), an HTC S740 (R4 700), a Nokia E71 (R4 700) or a Sony Eric­s­son XPE­RIA 1 (R6 700).

The lap­tops, cell­phones and print­ers for all 400 MPs have cost Par­lia­ment more than R14m. Par­lia­ment has in­sured the items.

Par­lia­ment is also in the process of ac­quir­ing new fur­ni­ture for MPs. Each will have a new desk, vis­i­tors’ chair, an ex­ec­u­tive chair and stor­age fa­cil­i­ties. The fur­ni­ture will cost Par­lia­ment ap­prox­i­mately R31m over three years.

Par­lia­ment’s spokesman, Luzuko Ja­cobs, said the de­ci­sion to pro­vide MPs with this equip­ment was taken in Au­gust 2008 as part of prepa­ra­tions for the es­tab­lish­ment of the fourth demo­cratic Par­lia­ment.

“Equip­ment is pro­vided to mem­bers in terms of the pol­icy on fa­cil­i­ties for Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment.”

Asked where the money for new elec­tronic equip­ment is com­ing from, given that Par­lia­ment’s fi­nances are un­der se­vere pres­sure, Ja­cobs said the money had been bud­geted for be­fore­hand and ap­proved by Par­lia­ment’s over­sight au­thor­ity.

He said it was stan­dard prac­tice to pro­vide MPs at the start of a new five-year term with the es­sen­tials nec­es­sary for them to per­form their jobs.

“MPs’ equip­ment should not be re­garded as lux­u­ries but tools of the trade. All equip­ment and fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided to mem­bers are de­ter­mined and al­lo­cated in ac­cor­dance with ap­proved pol­icy.”

He said MPs in ev­ery new Par­lia­ment re­ceived new equip­ment.

“(This) equip­ment, like com­put­ers, de­pre­ci­ates in value and, at the end of each term of Par­lia­ment, MPs are re­quired to hand in to Par­lia­ment the equip­ment they have re­ceived.”

Ja­cobs said some of the lap­tops used by MPs dur­ing the pre­vi­ous Par­lia­ment had been handed back, while some for­mer and cur­rent MPs had opted to buy the equip­ment from Par­lia­ment.

He said MPs of­fice fur­ni­ture needed to be re­placed as it had not been changed since the first demo­cratic Par­lia­ment in 1994.

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