National 7.9.2016 05:14 pm

Fuming Gordhan fires off, warns political ‘nonsense’ not in national interest

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: GCIS

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: GCIS

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday told the National Assembly the political turbulence surrounding himself and his ministry was not good for SA.

“This political nonsense around myself and National Treasury is not in the national interest,” he said in response to questions about the economy during ministerial question time.

Gordhan said he would return to the point later on Wednesday after cautioning that National Treasury continued to seek to protect its credit rating, as it was subject to continuous review. He called on all political players to put the interests of the country first.

“We need to put the national interest first,” he said after noting that the economic climate was not immune from political influence.

He noted there would be a “mini crisis from time to time” but said South Africa’s regulatory systems were strong enough to ensure “that we can move beyond them”.

Hence, the quality of leaders appointed to institutions was critical.

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After Mineral Resources Monsebenzi Zwane repeated that there was a need for a judicial inquiry into the banking sector to protect individuals from arbitrary closure of their accounts, Gordhan weighed in that he believed the local regulatory environment was strong and lauded the role of the SA Reserve Bank in this.

Zwane last week dropped a political bombshell by releasing a statement saying Cabinet had agreed to institute a judicial inquiry into the banking sector in response to the decision of several banks to end their relationship with the Gupta family, and suggested it draw in the central bank.

He was slapped down the next day by the Presidency, which said the view was his own and had not been made a resolution of Cabinet.

On Wednesday, in response to a call from the DA, Zwane repeated the call for a need for an inquiry to prevent banks “unilaterally” closing the accounts of clients. In last week’s repudiated statement, he had singled out the Gupta family.

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Gordhan denied statements from the opposition that he had boycotted the meetings of the interministerial committee from which the call for an inquiry emerged, saying it was a case of “the logistics were never right”.

He said he was open to a debate about whether regulatory requirements needed to be tightened, should the need arise, but suggested much could be done by the so-called Twin Peaks bill, or Financial Sector Regulation Bill, to allay existing concerns. It will establish two authorities to regulate conduct in the financial sector.

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