South Africa’s finance minister and auditor general are to investigate World Cup ticket purchases by government agencies amid concerns about “wasteful expenditure”, the ministry said on Wednesday.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who is trying to enforce fiscal discipline at ministries overseeing Africa’s biggest economy, told government officials in May not to splurge on tickets for the month-long tournament.
But struggling state-owned firms have spent R110-million on World Cup tickets, according to government answers to a parliamentary question, angering labour unions and sparking cries of executive greed.
“While there may be legitimate reasons for buying tickets to advance the business case of public enterprises and government departments, concern has been raised as to what action may be taken should the auditor general deem this expenditure wasteful,” a finance ministry statement said.
“The minister reiterates his call for civil servants to live up to their moral contract with citizens and for restraint and discernment to be exercised in the use of public funds,” it added.
Unions are pointing to the ticket spending as proof that state firms can afford the wage increases double the rate of inflation that employees are demanding. –Reuters