In response to an editorial about a possible nuclear deal that was run in both The Citizen newspaper and this website today, Treasury under new minister Malusi Gigaba has responded.
We publish Treasury’s response to the editorial in full below:
This letter refers to the editorial/op-ed published by your publication on 6 April 2017. We find the piece unfortunate as it is not entirely reflective of the truth. Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, who has been in the job for just a few days, has had several engagements with stakeholders and media since assuming the position. The Minister has remained consistent in his message around fiscal consolidation, the same message his predecessor was driving. This includes spending within our means, including where nuclear energy is concerned.
These are some of the public statements made by the former Minister of Finance and the current Minister of Finance.
Former Minister Gordhan: “Either the Director General or myself or both of us said that nuclear is out for South Africa. Now we all have different view of this. But at the lunch time session or event, one lady asked a question, where are you going with nuclear? And we have a standard answer, and the standard answer is that: Nuclear is part of the energy mix described in the integrated resource plan; the department of energy has indicated the path we are going at the moment; the president, myself and others have said very clearly that we will do nuclear on the basis of what we can afford at each stage over the next 10 or 20 years or whenever and however long it takes.”
Minister Gigaba: “We will implement the nuclear program at the pace and scale that the fiscus can afford, that the country can afford. I do not think that we will or should try to be reckless about this. The issue of the funding model and the technology preference for it are yet to be finalised. And I think the principle stands that we will implement it at the pace and scale that the country can afford.”
The nuclear energy question has come up several times during Minister Gigaba’s engagements with media, and the message has been consistent: that where nuclear energy is concerned, South Africa will move at a pace and speed that the country can afford. It is also important to again point out that South Africa already has a nuclear power station in Koeberg. Mnister Gigaba has also alluded to the fact that a number of studies have confirmed that South Africa does need to diversify its energy mix, as is fast becoming the norm in many other developing countries.
South Africa is one of the most advanced emerging markets and with expected higher economic growth in coming years, the country’s energy supply will need to keep up. We stress that in this context, coal alone can no longer sustain the country’s energy needs. Eskom, the country’s energy parastatal, has been exploring various energy options, to the extent that they have even opened up the space to independent power producers. We wish to reiterate that Minister Gigaba has not changed anything at the National Treasury. He is implementing and will continue to implement existing government policy.
Minister Malusi Gigaba’s spokesperson