Sachs move the tip­ping point?

Un­happy Pravin Gord­han de­scribes res­ig­na­tion of senior Trea­sury of­fi­cial over pres­i­dent’s pro­posed free higher ed­u­ca­tion plan as ‘a tragedy’

The Times (South Africa) - - News - By KATHARINE CHILD and BIANCA CAPAZORIO — Ad­di­tional re­port­ing Sa­belo Sk­iti

● Former fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han has called the res­ig­na­tion of senior Trea­sury of­fi­cial Michael Sachs an “ab­so­lute tragedy”.

Sachs, deputy direc­tor-gen­eral in the bud­get­ing of­fice, re­signed amid al­le­ga­tions that he and other Trea­sury of­fi­cials were un­happy about Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s al­leged plan to in­tro­duce free ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

Zuma’s plan, said to be the brain­child of his daugh­ter’s ex, Mor­ris Ma­sutha, calls on Trea­sury to pro­vide R40-bil­lion for free ed­u­ca­tion.

No bud­getary pro­vi­sions have been made for the fund­ing and Trea­sury staffers who spoke to The Times on Mon­day said many feared a par­al­lel bud­get­ing process was tak­ing place out­side of the Trea­sury.

The Sun­day Times re­ported Sachs had PRAVIN GORD­HAN Former fi­nance min­is­ter threat­ened to re­sign if Zuma’s plan was im­ple­mented be­cause there had not been suf­fi­cient con­sul­ta­tion or con­sid­er­a­tion of the long-term ram­i­fi­ca­tions.

On Mon­day Zuma re­leased the find­ings of the He­her Com­mis­sion on higher ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing, just hours after the news of Sachs’ res­ig­na­tion be­came pub­lic.

Speak­ing to The Times, Gord­han said: “It’s an ab­so­lute tragedy that a per­son of Sachs’ cal­i­bre has de­cided to leave Trea­sury.”

He also al­luded to the fact that Sachs re­signed be­cause his abil­ity to man­age the bud­get had been in­ter­fered with.

Gord­han said: “It is no mys­tery as to why this might have hap­pened, de­spite the spin doc­tor­ing that has been on it.”

He called the sit­u­a­tion “reck­less”. “This is an­other ac­tiv­ity that can sab­o­tage our eco­nomic growth and fis­cal cred­i­bil­ity at a time we can least af­ford it,” said Gord­han.

Econ­o­mists have warned that this gives the ap­pear­ance of in­sta­bil­ity in the Trea­sury and could be the tip­ping point for South Africa to be­ing down­graded by rat­ings agency Moody’s to junk sta­tus.

On Mon­day, the rand fell from R14.40 to R14.54.

“This is an­other ac­tiv­ity that can sab­o­tage our eco­nomic growth”

Pic­ture: Ru­van Boshoff

Se­cu­rity in riot gear out­side the tent where UCT stu­dents will write exams. A group of stu­dents and staff handed a mem­o­ran­dum with de­mands to the Vice-Chan­cel­lor Max Price

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