Parliament - While South Africa’s National Treasury has completed most of the preliminary work into the country’s proposed nuclear build programme, all the details, including the cost to the fiscus, remained classified, MPs were told on Tuesday.
Briefing Parliament’s standing committee on Finance, Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile said he was not cleared to share any of the specifics of the reports compiled on the nuclear build, most notably the cost implications.
“There are several pieces of work we have done on this. Most of them have been conducted actually,” said Fuzile.
“The latest one is what we have been doing with the department of energy…which is the working out in a little bit more detail the financial implications, costing model or financing model for instance. Even cabinet hasn’t seen it.”
Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier insisted on transparency and asked that Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene brief the committee on what the nuclear build would cost the country before the end of the year, as government has indicated it would make a decision on where it would procure its nuclear technology from before December 31.
“We have to force the issue,” said Maynier.
Committee chairman Yunus Carrim reminded his fellow committee members that transparency in the nuclear deal was not just a DA imperative, but that his own party, the African National Congress, also insisted on the public interest being taken into account before a nuclear deal is concluded.
“I don’t know anywhere in the world where you can have nuclear and just go ahead and do it in a constitutional democracy,” said Carrim.
“This very weekend (during the ANC National General Council) there was a decision that the cost benefit analysis of nuclear must be considered.”
Fuzile confirmed that it was unlikely that decisions on spending on a nuclear deal could be made without Parliament having a say.
“In so far as we bring it home, I usually say to people anything that will cost money, at some point it must be set out in the three year expenditure framework and Parliament has an opportunity to consider it.”