NEWS

Gigaba Says He's 'Reined In' Adviser Malikane

The new finance minister says there will be no major change of policy ahead of an overseas trip.

19/04/2017 10:56 SAST | Updated 19/04/2017 16:59 SAST
James Oatway / Reuters
South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba attends a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa April 4, 2017.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday there would be no change of fiscal policy, ahead of his meetings with investors and finance ministers from around the world in the U.S. this week.

The minister also moved to allay concerns about his department's ideological orientation by distancing himself from the views expressed by his new adviser, Chris Malikane.

In an opinion piece published in the Sunday Times, Malikane, who is a professor of economics at Wits University, advocated for the nationalisation of mines, banks and insurance companies.

Ahead of an overseas trip where Gigaba was due to meet with investors and ratings company Moody's, Gigaba addressed the media on Wednesday in what seemed to be another attempt to put fears of a sudden left-turn by Treasury to rest.

He said he would discuss government's nine-point plan to grow the economy with investors, as well as its intentions to increase the number of black industrialists and agro-processing.

The minister said his department remained committed to ensuring the public sector wages remained within budget, fiscal discipline and keeping with the policy trajectory of government already in place.

"We will tell them [the investors] about our commitment to fiscal discipline," he said.

The trip abroad is to attend the World Bank/International Monetary Fund spring meetings, Gigaba said.

"The purpose is to discuss trends, the global economic outlook and it provides us with an opportunity to interact with finance ministers from other countries," he said.

Gigaba said the delegation from Treasury would "give assurance on the policy direction of government" to the international community.

He said he remained confident in the South African economy.

"We are going to be talking up our country," he said.

Gigaba said he had "reined in" Malikane, adding that he could not be his spokesperson. He added that Malikane was part of a group of advisers with diverse views.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gigaba's office said:

"Professor Malikane is within his rights as an academic and an activist to contribute ideas to national discourse on any subject. Minister Malusi Gigaba wishes to place on record that the work of the Ministry of Finance will continue to be guided by policies of the ANC, as articulated in conference resolutions and in the 2014 election manifesto," the statement said.