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Agri-BEE fund drained

Government reneging on commitment to transform sector.

Government is reneging on its commitment to transform the agricultural sector, the agriculture department conceded on Wednesday.

Briefing parliament’s portfolio committee on agriculture, department chief director Kwena Komape outlined the problems facing the Agri-BEE fund.

The fund was established to help black beneficiaries acquire ownership equity in white commercial agricultural businesses. The Land Bank is managing the fund.

Komape said six projects had been recommended for approval but only one would receive funding.

“Once the disbursement for the approved transaction [tropical mushrooms] takes place the balance of the fund will sit at zero for the current financial year [2013/14],” Komape said.

This followed a directive by the National Treasury that the Land Bank return all uncommitted funds.

“A total of R229 million was returned,” she said.

The Land Bank was not at the committee meeting to explain why it did not disburse funds to other projects approved by the department.

MPs suggested the Land Bank should be summoned to parliament to explain the situation.

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