Gigaba reacts on Sachs
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.