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Gordhan promises sound fiscal management

Dec 14 2015 15:29
Karabo Ngoepe, News24

Pretoria - Newly-appointed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has assured the nation that sound fiscal management will be a priority for him and his department.

"We will stay the course of sound fiscal management. Our expenditure ceiling is sacrosanct. We can have extra expenditure only if we raise extra revenue. We will unreservedly continue our fiscal consolidation process and we will stabilise our debt in the medium term," he said.

"If needs be, we will accelerate this by either cutting spending or making selective changes to tax policy. Similarly, any revenue raising opportunity will be considered very carefully to ensure that it does not damage growth or affect the poor negatively."

Gordhan was addressing the media after being reinstated at the finance ministry on Sunday following the unceremonious sacking of Nhlanla Nene on Wednesday. Nene was replaced by little-known David van Rooyen, causing the rand to plummet. 

Van Rooyen was moved to Gordhan's old post at the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

Gordhan said he was returning to a portfolio that was assigned to him for five years between 2009 and 2014. He said he had been associated with finance for almost two decades and he was familiar with the terrain and its challenges.

He acknowledged that the Nene and Van Rooyen debacle had caused serious harm to the economy and it would take time to restore normality.

"The facts about the developments that took place last week and the response of the financial markets are well-known. Our currency fell, the stock market dropped by 2.94% and bond yields shot up by over 150 basis points. Our government is acutely aware of the financial impact this had on those who are invested in this economy," he said.

He added that the collapse of the rand had set tongues wagging and people wanting a change. Gordhan said President Jacob Zuma's decision to reshuffle the cabinet was an indication of a leader who listens to the people. He called on South Africans to work with government to turn the tide.

"As President Zuma indicated, when a decision triggers developments such as these, a democratic government has a duty to listen and respond appropriately.

"Our humble appeal to the nation is to work with us as we continue to build a resilient economy and a better life for all South Africans in the context of a challenging global, emerging markets and domestic economic environment," Gordhan said.

Taking over from Nene, Gordhan will be faced with two major challenges - the South African Airways Airbus deal and the nuclear deal. On the issue of SAA, he said the decisions made by Nene would stand.



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