DA wants #BudgetDebate postponed

The finance minister is currently on a mission abroad to meet with investors and ratings agencies.

FILE. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan delivering his national Budget speech in Parliament on 24 February 2016. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's absence from an important budget debate in Parliament this afternoon has sparked a war of words between the African National Congress (ANC) the Democratic Alliance.

The DA says it is unacceptable that Gordhan won't be present and wants the debate postponed until next week.

But the chairperson of Parliament's standing committee on finance, Member of Parliament (MP) Yunus Carrim says the circumstances are exceptional.

Gordhan is on a mission abroad to meet with investors and ratings agencies, to spread his budget message and try and avert South Africa being downgraded to junk status.

It will be the first time in South Africa's democratic history that the finance minister won't be present when parties debate the fiscal framework.

The DA's David Maynier says, "It's completely unacceptable for the minister not to be here for a budget debate in Parliament, and so we've asked for the debate to be postponed until next week so the minister can be present."

Carrim says Gordhan's absence can't be avoided.

"It's not as if the minister chose by whim not to be here, he's got a very competent deputy minister who can well handle the issues in the house and I think this once again betrays the DA's complete lack of commitment to some sort of national interest, notwithstanding our huge differences on economic and other policies."

Carrim says the law imposes tight lines for Parliament to deal with the budget and that postponing today's debate is out of the question.

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