The nuclear expansion programme in South Africa would happen “in such a way that it doesn’t undermine the interests of the country as a whole”, the Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas told a Medium Term Budget Policy Statement media conference on Wednesday morning. BizNews correspondent and Cape Messenger editor Donwald Pressly reports…
By Donwald Pressly*
If South Africa went ahead with expanding its nuclear power programme, National Treasury would ensure if did not bankrupt the country.
Those weren’t the words of Mcebisi Jonas – the deputy minister of finance who has reported that he was offered a cabinet post by the Gupta family – but it is probably what he meant. What he really said was: “On Eskom and nuclear… we take the view that whatever happens with regards to the nuclear project it will happen in such a way that it doesn’t undermine the interests of the country as whole.”
This was National Treasury’s role “as (the) fiscal custodian of fiscal integrity. (It) is important that we will continue to play a critical role (regarding) the pace and scale that (that) project will be delivered”.
Jonas pointed out that policy making was the responsibility of government – and not that of parastatals like Eskom.
Responding to a question regarding the announcement by Eskom that it would not be buying power from the Independent Power Producers, Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile said that existing contracts signed bound Eskom already.
It is understood that Eskom wants to focus on the nuclear programme instead, but Fuzile said any policy “can only change in the future… if the policy says no more IPPs… which the current one does not say”
Jonas, apparently responding to apparent contradictions over policy implementation said Treasury would be having a “conversation” with Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown “on some of the issues raised” to ensure that government had policy cohesion.