SAA briefs Parliament Committee on its finances

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South African Airways Chief Financial Officer Fikile Mhlontlo says the outstanding audits for the previous financial years will be concluded in the last quarter of the current financial year, which ends in March 2023.

South African Airways board and executives appeared before Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee. The cash-strapped national airliner briefed Members of Parliament on the annual report and the status of the multiple audit statements from 2017 to 2022 financial years.

Mhlontlo told the committee how SAA has been facing debt challenges.

“The business was heavily in debt with the debt position of R8.4 billion at a time resulting in annual financing costs of R1.4 billion. That level of interest charging payable because of a various loans that the business had raised.

You will see when we come to the income statement how this is negatively affecting the financial performance. Also you will also note that during this financial year, there was an amount of R10 billion recapitalisation that came into the business, one it was then in part R7.4 billion to repay some of the loans and R2.6 billion which was to cover working capital or to cover operations”, Mhlontlo says.

South African Airways came under fierce criticism over its financial status and failure to submit previous financials on time. African National Congress Member of the Committee Thokozile Malinga says it makes it difficult for Parliament to conduct oversight over SAA. The national airliner’s board and executive briefed the committee on the status of the multiple outstanding audit statements dating back to the 2017/2018 financial year until last year. Malinga had various concerns and questions.

“What are the measures still in place for the audit finding of 2021/2022 financial year. And chairperson, I just want to check is the strategic equity partner now on board? And what is their stance on the internal audit of this entity and chairperson given the fact that the people who did not submit the last financial reports, I think from 2017 up until was it last year, how are we going to get the financial reports because it’s not correct to oversee an entity to submit financial reports and expect us to do proper oversight chair”, Malinga says.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance’s Farhart Essack was equally not impressed with SAA’s presentation on past financial statements without touching on whether it has suffered current financial losses.

“This presentation remains just a tick box exercise. When the  report is nearly four years old or four and a half years old and I mean so much has happened Chairperson in the interim, the issues that are at stake and that we really need to be  discussing, instead of looking at a five year presentation of financial statements with so much have having transpired, I mean the issues that we should be interrogating is since SAA has resumed operations, you know, what are the  operating losses then thus far since it has resumed, for  instance what are the operating losses  until the  31st of August 2022. We need to talk current term, current facts”.

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