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IFP: Statement by Liezl van der Merwe, Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson, on the Reserve Bank (29/09/2009)

29th September 2009

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"On behalf of the IFP, in a letter to its Chairman, I have called on the Portfolio Committee on Finance to summon the South African Reserve Bank to appear before it," said IFP MP, Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini.

"On Friday 18, for the third time in a row over several months, the SARB failed to appear before the Committee. Irrespective of the reasons given, this failure to appear occurs at the most arduous time in the SARB's life and during the worst economic crisis in South African history.

This is the critical time for the Finance Committee to exercise its constitutional obligation of oversight and to interact with the SARB.

The most critical national economic decisions at this dramatic juncture hinge on money supply and interest rates, which are within the province of the SARB. By not being able to meet the SARB, the Committee is unable to exercise its constitutional responsibilities to interact with SARB not only in respect of these two critical issues but also in respect of the other issues in the public debate.

Concerns have been raised about the SARB's private secret ownership, and the functions and the composition of certain of its organs, such as the secretive monetary committee which finally determines how much we are to pay on our home bonds or credit card loans.

COSATU has called for the nationalization of the SARB pointing out that its crucial public mandate cannot be left in private owners' hands. Business Unity South Africa has complained about the SARB not cutting interest rates, which is deepening the economic crisis. Some of SARB's shareholders are complaining about breaches in corporate governance and lack of accountability and transparency from the Bank's Board. Reportedly the Governor received a 42% pay raise for the past two years supposedly placing him as the third highest paid central bank official in the world.

In all this, Parliament is nowhere to be seen or heard. If Parliament does not issue a summons on this occasion, then when? This is an acid test as to whether the recent rhetoric of an "activist" Parliament has any substance or refers only to what is politically approved at the top and not controversial."

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