Parliament spends R46m on laptops, cellphones and furniture for MPs
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.