Govt will continue to curtail expenditure if SA's economy doesn't grow - Gordhan

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says government has set itself an expenditure ceiling.

FILE: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan at the 2017 Budget media briefing in Cape Town on 22 February 2017. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says as long as the South African economy is not growing, government will continue to curtail expenditure.

Gordhan and his Deputy Mcebisi Jonas are making NationalTreasury’s submission to the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training in Centurion on Friday.

President Jacob Zuma established the commission last year to investigate the feasibility of fee-free higher education.

Gordhan says government has set itself an expenditure ceiling.

“Equally, choices have to be made when new demands or unanticipated demands - as was the case early last year. Once you have an expenditure ceiling, then it’s zero-sum game. If we want to give an extra amount of money into one area, it has to come from somewhere else.”

The minister says the demands on the budget are always greater than the money available, which means choices have to be made about where the money is spent.

“So our responses in some over the last few years has been a combination of cutting expenditure on the one hand and raising taxes on the other hand. But throughout this process I think it’s very important to bear in mind that government has been totally committed to safeguarding social expenditure.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)