South Africa’s Minister of Finance silent about nuclear energy
Why Gordhan’s silence on nuclear was golden’ The Minister effectively signaled that there is no need to react to exaggerated energy crisis talk coming from the pro-nuclear lobby’ Business Day, 24 FEBRUARY 2017 – 08:50 AM HARTMUT WINKLER South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan said very little about the energy sector in his recent budget speech. The word “energy” came up only once compared with 2016, when it was used five times. Even more notable is that he didn’t mention nuclear energy – a source of major contention – at all.
The explicit statements relating to energy were restricted to an increase in the fuel levy and affirmation that the independent power producer programme would continue with the development of further renewable and gas power generation.
This avoidance might at first glance seem odd given the heated controversies around power shortages as well as the government’s plans to invest in unaffordable nuclear power plants.
But there’s a great deal to take heart from. By downplaying the energy sector in his speech, the Minister effectively signaled that there is no need to react to exaggerated energy crisis talk coming from the pro-nuclear lobby. Instead, he is showing faith in the existing modest medium term energy budget, and an unwillingness to be diverted onto a reckless financial course…….
The significance of the Minister’s silence
Gordhan’s budget signalled that he is intent on standing firm against any political pressure by refusing to significantly deviate from the National Treasury’s long term expenditure plan.
Contrary to what his detractors would have hoped for, he did not make appreciably higher allocations to the nuclear sector. Instead he:
– Committed to the continuation of the independent power producer driven renewable energy programme. This has been opposed by the pro-nuclear Eskom;…….
Gordhan went on to say: “By acting now to stabilise debt … future generations will not pay … 20 or 30 years from now.”
This affirms the frequently stated view that the decision to embark on a massive nuclear build could only be financed through astronomical loans that will severely burden the nation for decades.
Gordhan has stood firm. But one question remains: will his stand lead to his dismissal and replacement with a stooge leading inevitably to a crash of the country’s currency, open warfare inside the ruling party and public protest? https://www.businesslive.co.za/rdm/politics/2017-02-24-why-gordhans-silence-on-nuclear-was-golden/
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