President: No change to government’s fiscal stance

Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma says government will not abandon the fiscal path it has chosen in the last few years.

“Government will not abandon the fiscal path that it has chosen in the last few years. Maintaining a prudent fiscal position remains one of government’s top priorities,” said President Zuma in a media statement on Friday.

The President’s comments follow the appointment of David van Rooyen as Minister of Finance on Wednesday, replacing former Minister Nene.

“His appointment as Minister of Finance does not signal a change in the government’s fiscal stance,” said the President, adding that the new Minister will strengthen the path and continue to support all efforts aimed at improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.

“Minister van Rooyen is supported by Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas who carries many years of experience in the economic cluster. They are supported by the hardworking and capable National Treasury team, led by the Director General, Mr Lungisa Fuzile,” he said.

The President also thanked former Minister Nene for his sterling contribution to the National Executive and for taking forward the goals of building a better life for all.

The urgency of the changes in the leadership of the National Treasury was due to the need to send nominations of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/BRICS Bank to Shanghai.

“Mr Nene is our candidate for this position. We are fully backing his candidature, knowing full well that he will excel and make the nation proud in his next assignment.”

President Zuma said government remains committed to adhering to the set expenditure ceiling while maintaining a stable trajectory of the country’s debt portfolio, as set out in the February 2015 Budget.

“Our commitment to diversifying our economy, reduce the cost of doing business and utilising resources much more efficiently to enable a more inclusive economic growth remains important.”

Government, he said, will continue to improve the budget process in order to maintain the country’s international reputation as a global leader in budget transparency.

“To support the economy, government is committed to sustaining public sector capital investment, by attracting private sector capital into public infrastructure projects. Government also remains committed to provide support to state-owned companies in a fiscally sustainable manner, including South African Airways.

“We assure the nation that nothing will be done, in supporting state-owned entities that runs contrary to the fiscal prudence that our country is renowned for. No state-owned entity will dictate to government how it should be assisted.”

The implementation of the National Development Plan remains the cornerstone of South Africa’s economy, he said.

“We will continue our actions in alleviating the most binding constraints to growth and we have set out a series of urgent economic reforms to build a more competitive economy,” said the President.

These, among others, include:

-Continued investment in economic infrastructure

-Reforming the governance of the state-owned companies,

– Rationalising state holding and encouraging private-sector participation.

– Addressing energy challenges.

– Encouraging affordable, reliable and accessible broadband access.

– Promoting black ownership of productive industrial assets.

– Reviewing business incentive programmes in all economic sectors to ensure that resources support growth.

The economic cluster will meet on Tuesday next week to prepare for a special cabinet meeting on the economy, which will take place on Friday 18 December.

“This will enable us to focus specifically and exclusively on the current economic climate and on the country’s response,” said President Zuma.