Gi­gaba re­acts on Sachs

The Witness - - NEWS -

CAPE TOWN — Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba has promised to pro­tect “the in­tegrity and trans­parency of the bud­get sys­tem and process” in the wake of the abrupt res­ig­na­tion of Na­tional Trea­sury’s bud­get head Michael Sachs.

Sachs, a deputy di­rec­tor­gen­eral who headed up the bud­get of­fice, quit last week over in­ter­fer­ence by the pres­i­dency, ac­cord­ing to two sources close to Trea­sury.

The is­sue of free higher ed­u­ca­tion, that is be­ing steam­rolled by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, was re­port­edly what pushed Sachs, a Trea­sury vet­eran of 10 years, to re­sign.

“Michael didn’t nec­es­sar­ily op­pose the idea of free ed­u­ca­tion, but he wouldn’t stand for the in­ter­fer­ence in the bud­get process,” a source said.

Zuma’s plan to find R40 bil­lion within the con­strained bud­get to fund a free­ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy for fam­i­lies who earn less than R350 000 comes amid changes to the bud­get process, where Na­tional Trea­sury’s role in manag­ing the fis­cal frame­work has taken a back seat to the Pres­i­den­tial Fis­cal Com­mit­tee.

The no­fee pro­posal — which has not yet been con­firmed by Zuma — goes against the rec­om­men­da­tions that were con­firmed in Zuma’s re­lease of the He­her Com­mis­sion re­port yes­ter­day, fol­low­ing an in­quiry into the fea­si­bil­ity of mak­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing fee­free in South Africa.

Zuma made it clear yes­ter­day that the re­port was not the fi­nal word on the mat­ter, say­ing in a state­ment that Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Jeff Radebe and Gi­gaba were still “pro­cess­ing the re­port” and that he will “make a pro­nounce­ment on the re­port once the min­is­ters have con­cluded their work”.

How­ever, Gi­gaba said in a state­ment yes­ter­day: “Both the di­rec­tor­gen­eral and I are aware of pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity and trans­parency of the bud­get sys­tem and process, and en­sure that all tax and ex­pen­di­ture de­ci­sion pro­cesses con­tinue to be run by the Trea­sury and min­is­ter of Fi­nance, and con­tin­ues with the con­sul­ta­tive process in­tro­duced by the first demo­cratic gov­ern­ment.”

Gi­gaba said Sachs would not be leav­ing Trea­sury im­me­di­ately and would first “en­sure a proper han­dover to an­other se­nior of­fi­cial and ... al­low for a smooth tran­si­tion with as lit­tle in­ter­rup­tion to the work of the Bud­get Of­fice as pos­si­ble”.

Gi­gaba said Sachs had “ex­pressed his in­ter­est to serve the pub­lic sec­tor in a dif­fer­ent ca­pac­ity”. — Fin24.

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