Cape Town - Pravin Gordhan spent just less than two hours outlining the government’s R1.25 trillion spending plan for the next financial year, but afterwards it was just tea and biscuits for him.

In keeping with tradition for big events at Parliament, there’s usually a cocktail do for invited guests, ministers, officials and others. Yesterday the Finance Ministry upheld this tradition – with tea, coffee, biscuits and some cold bottled water to bring relief in the Cape Town heat, where temperatures reached 33°C.

“This is modesty. It’s still important to bring everybody together. We have to practise what we preach,” Gordhan said.

The minister ruffled feathers late last year when he announced a restriction on alcohol at government functions (there would be permissible exceptions such as gala banquets) as part of austerity measures.

These also included limiting the money available for ministerial cars, reducing hotel accommodation and air travel budgets, and a ban on government-issued credit cards.

The cost-containment measures were announced in the medium-term budget policy statement in October and followed a belt-tightening requirement five years earlier, when departments were told to cut their travel, consultancy and catering budget.

 

Regardless of the modest offering of tea and biscuits, the venue was full and guests waited for a photo opportunity with Gordhan, the man of the moment. - The Star