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Finance minister optimistic SA’s economic growth rate will improve

Pravin Gordhan is optimistic the economy’s growth rate will improve in the second half of the year.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Sars briefing on 01 April 2016. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is optimistic the economy's growth rate will improve in the second half of the year and that consumer-price inflation, driven by the crippling drought, will slow down.

Gordhan was introducing the National Treasury's budget vote in Parliament earlier today.

"The lingering effects of the drought may still be with us but as the energy constraint eases and household debt moderates, we will see a steady recovery in confidence and investment."

Gordhan has been challenged to say whether or not he''ll be joining the ministers of mineral resources and labour in their meeting with the country's big four banks, over their decisions to cut ties with the Gupta-controlled company Oakbay Investments.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) David Maynier put the questions to Gordhan during debate on the budget.

"Will you be joining your Cabinet colleagues to meet certain banks, to discuss their decision to terminate their business relationships with the Guptas?"

Gordhan's also been asked whether any investigation is underway into allegations that the controversial family unlawfully took assets out of the country.

Maynier's asked for a probe by the South African Reserve Bank and financial intelligence, into whether certain banks complied with the law when they decided to halt business with the Gupta-controlled company.

"And will you tell us, whether, following my request for an investigation, the financial intelligence centre will be investigating allegations that the Guptas illegally removed assets from South Africa."

Cabinet decided last month the trio of ministers should engage with the banks, citing concern future investors would be deterred by their cutting ties with Oakbay Investments.

Last month, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said President Jacob Zuma carried R6 billion to Dubai on behalf of the Guptas, a claim the presidency rejected as preposterous and malicious.

President Zuma is expected to introduce the Presidency's budget vote in the National Assembly at 2pm today.

In his Presidency budget vote last year, he insisted that South Africa had a good story to tell, reaping a firestorm of opposition criticism.

WATCH: "Yerrrrr" Zuma lashes out at opposition parties.