Cape Times

Builders engage Treasury on debt woes

Court class action postponed

- Roy Cokayne

MASTER Builders South Africa (MBSA) has postponed a planned class-action court applicatio­n against the government to recoup billions of rand owed to its members for work done for municipali­ties, provincial and government department­s and state-owned enterprise­s to engage the National Treasury in a last-ditch attempt to resolve the problem.

A meeting between MBSA and officials from the office of the chief procuremen­t officer at the National Treasury took place on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Roy Mnisi, the executive director of MBSA, a leading organisati­on in the building and constructi­on industry, said yesterday that its members had a total of about R5.5 billion due for payment by government entities that had been outstandin­g for more than 90 days, despite regulation­s that required the government to pay contractor­s and service providers within 90 days.

Mnisi said about half of the MBSA’s 4 000 members had money owing by the government that had been outstandin­g for more than 90 days, but last year the amount owing was about R6bn.

He said the purpose of the meeting with the National Treasury was to come up with ideas on how to deal with the problem before it escalated into court action.

Mnisi said the problem had been discussed at length with National Treasury officials and it would not be necessary at this stage for MBSA to proceed with the class action court applicatio­n proposed by MBSA members.

“They took it very seriously and as a result we were of the view that we should give them an opportunit­y to work on the matter,” he said.

Mnisi said it was agreed that MBSA would submit to the National Treasury the specific claims submitted by its members to municipali­ties, government department­s and state-owned enterprise­s that had been not been paid and been outstandin­g for more than 90 days, to enable the National Treasury to deal with the issue.

He added that some government department­s and municipali­ties went out to tender when they did not have the budget to pay for these products or services, which was one of the causes of the delayed payments and a contravent­ion of the Public Finance Management Act, and for municipali­ties, of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

“We raised that point

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