Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has deferred to the Presidency as he refused to weigh in on reports that President Jacob Zuma could announce free higher education for all in the country.

Gigaba is leading a high-powered government delegation on a multi country investor roadshow that begins in New York and includes stops in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore.

The SABC spoke to the Minister about this and some investor concerns around policy uncertainty and speculation that the African National Congresses’ (ANC) Policy Conference in December might be postponed.

Gigaba did not want to pre-empt the President’s announcement as it relates to the finding of the Heher Commission which investigated the possibility of providing free higher education in South Africa.

“We have been consulted on the proposals which the presidency is going to make and I think it would be appropriate for us not to make any announcement on behalf on the President, we need to sit and wait until the President has made the announcement and then we can issue a comment thereafter but for now we are awaiting the Presidency, we don’t know when the announcement will be made.”

When asked if the question of political uncertainty comes up in his conversations with investors and the short answer was yes.

“An intriguing question for me which has been raised by investors is whether the ANC conference is going to take place or not, given some of the challenges that have been experienced in some of the regional and provincial conferences across the country. We have assured them that the conference is going to take place, it is a conference of branches and the audit of branches has been concluded, we therefore are confident that the conference is going to go ahead and they need to take (a) leaf from the signals that have been sent in terms of policy by the national policy conference in July and so to extent that we can, we are very confident that the conference will take place, a new leadership will be elected and the policy signals have been sent by the policy conference.”

On the SARS Judicial Commission of Inquiry and whether it’s required, given a number of damning allegations already in the public domain, Gigaba says they are still working out the terms of reference.

“We are focusing on issues of the capacity of SARS and tax administration issues, if those issues arise they will obviously be dealt with by the commission but the terms of reference of the commission are going to be drafted in a way that would ensure that we are able to improve the capacity of SARS to continue conducting its work and the public perception so that we address concerns about tax administration. We improve tax morality and ensure that the revenue services’ integrity remains intact so that taxpayers can continue to adhere to their tax obligations.”

With questions about fiscal consolidation, stabilizing the country’s debt to GDP ratio and desperately needed structural reforms that are required to boost weak economic growth.

“We have said to them SA has deep capital markets, we are the most diversified economy on the African continent, we remain a gateway to Africa. We have the largest and most developed and very competitive infrastructure and we also have a very good legal and judicial system. Our Reserve Bank is independent and so we’ve presented a very good story which includes the fact that we are seeing green shoots in various sectors of the economy.”

Over 20 JSE listed company executives are accompanying the government on their five cities, four country roadshow in a strong show of unity for the first time since Gigaba’s tenure at Treasury began in March.

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