'Only available funds will be used for nuclear power plants'

Pravin Gordhan confirmed a Cabinet decision to pursue nuclear has been made with thorough procurement.

FILE: New Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - New Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says only available funds will be used to fund nuclear power plants.

At a media briefing earlier today, Gordhan confirmed a Cabinet decision to pursue nuclear has been made, but that a thorough procurement process now lies ahead.

Last night, Gordhan was returned to his old portfolio after days of chaos on the markets following President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene and replace him with David van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen was only in his position for four days before making way for Gordhan who today assured investors there would be no change in financial policies.

"There are times when you have to admit that there was a miscalculation, there needs to be a review of the decision and we need to move on to a new scenario. Regrettably, I represent the new scenario."

Gordhan says a decision on how to fund the nuclear build programme has not been made and the treasury will tread carefully.

"And at the same time ensure that we reach our fiscal goals. Fiscal consolidation over a period of time, which means you want to narrow the deficit."

Gordhan says the affordability of the projects needs to be seriously considered.

"We will only do that thing on whether it's affordable. We can't spend money that we don't have, we can't make commitments when we know that we are not going to get the money."

Gordhan also talked tough about the state of the country's state owned enterprises, including the South African Airways (SAA), saying government will not be dictated to.

LISTEN: Pravin Gordhan on The money Show


Gordhan also assured the nation job creation and economic growth were key points on his agenda.

Speaking on The Money Show a short while ago, he said he was confident his department has what it takes to get back on track.

"In 2009 there was much more difficulty but I think colleagues in government have an understanding that the main priorities that we need to do is assembling the right kind of order."

WATCH: New finance minister allays fears over SA's economy


The newly-appointed minister also moved to calm international and local markets by promising conservative spending and adherence to fiscal policy.

His return was welcomed by the African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties as well as the currency markets, which saw a marked improvement in the value of the rand.

Addressing the controversy around SAA chair Dudu Myeni's request to introduce a middleman into the Airbus deal, thought to be the reason by Nene's removal, Gordhan said he would contact her.

"I hope to talk to the chairperson telephonically later in the day or some time tomorrow. Anything anybody wants to do has to happen within the fiscal framework. We are not going to do reckless decision."

Gordhan says Nene's decisions relating to SAA still stands.

"The previous minister's decision stands until there is a necessity to change it for any reason. Unless somebody has a new case to put to me - that decision stands."

Gordhan also warned against the abuse of finances within state-owned companies by individuals.

"It's time that individuals or groups of individuals stop playing with state entities as if it's a personal toy from which you can extract money whenever you feel like it. These are public institutions."

The minister called for fiscal responsibility and said they would not allow any SOEs to dictate how government spends its money.