Stop using public institutions as personal toys - Gordhan | Fin24
 
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Stop using public institutions as personal toys - Gordhan

Dec 14 2015 21:00
Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - It is time for people to stop using public institutions as their personal toys.

That was the message from newly-appointed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday.

"We're really serious when we say good governance is non-negotiable," he told reporters in Pretoria less than 24 hours after his re-appointment as finance minister.

"It's time that individuals or groups of individuals stop playing with state entities, whether they are SOCs [state-owned companies] or other government components as if it's a personal toy from which you can extract money when you feel like."

The prime responsibility of public institutions was to either contribute to the economy, contribute to providing a service or contribute to revenue for government, Gordhan said.

"Some of them are quite central to efficiency in our economy as well and that's the focus we expect.

"We do require a bit of national reflection... amongst South Africans as to how do we want to manage state resources."

Four days after removing Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and replacing him with David van Rooyen, President Jacob Zuma announced another reshuffle of the key portfolio.

He re-appointed Gordhan as finance minister and shifted Van Rooyen to co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

Explaining the reason for another move Zuma, in a statement on Sunday night, said, "I have received many representations to reconsider my decision. As a democratic government, we emphasise the importance of listening to the people and to respond to their views."

Gordhan's appointment has been welcomed by business bodies and political parties.

The announcement also saw the rand start to recover after it plummeted when Nene was removed.

However, many still feel lasting damage to the South African economy has already been done.

The SA Institute of Professional Accountants (Saipa) said the fallout of the recent "catastrophic shuffle" would have long-lasting effects on the country's economy.

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Janine Myburgh said it was a relief to have Gordhan back in the job of finance minister, however, the question remained how much damage had been done.

"Whichever way we look at it, the world will see three ministers of finance in a week as a clear indication of a nation that does not know where it is going or how to get there," she said in a statement."

Business Leadership South Africa said the country had turned a corner with the reappointment of Gordhan.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions was less enthusiastic, saying Gordhan was "not a friend of the working class".

"We will only throw our full support behind him... if he signs in to an honest progressive agenda," spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement.

"This economy has for a long time failed to serve the interest of working class."

The ANC welcomed Gordhan's return.

The decision was made due to public concern and the need for someone with the experience to champion the country's fiscal policy, and who could reassure the markets, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance has again called for a motion of no confidence in Zuma to be debated in Parliament.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he had written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and said the matter should be debated at the first opportunity in 2016.

Gordhan told reporters on Monday he was approached over the weekend.

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

Gordhan assured the nation that sound fiscal management would 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."

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.

Gordhan said his team would start dealing with the SAA board in the new year after the holiday.

He said he was also going to be speaking to SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni by telephone either later on Thursday or Friday

"What I have set out in the statement applies to expenditure within government and as we clearly point out to the state owned companies as well [is] that anything anybody wants to do has to happen within a sustainable, fiscal framework.

"We are not going to make reckless decisions. We are going to ensure that the kind of discipline that government has demonstrated since 1994  is the kind of discipline that will continue and nobody needs to fear that we will move in any other direction," Gordhan said.

pravin gordhan  |  sa economy
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