No nationalisation yet – Manuel

2010-09-24 11:25

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has shot down calls to nationalise South Africa’s mines.

Manuel, who was briefing the media on the findings of the ANC’s economic commission at its national general council (NGC) in Durban today, said limited resources were available and that the state could not afford to pay out a fortune every time it wanted to take over a mine.

“If you’re going to do this in every instance the issue of the resource debate must enter somewhere,” Manuel said.

“What the NEC (the ANC’s national executive committee) must do in the next two years is look at all of these issues and answer the question of what it means.

“If every bit of tax you collect is going to pay out mine owners and not deliver on the NHI (national health insurance) what are the implications of that?”

Trade-offs were sometimes necessary in economies, Manuel said.

“You may have to give up on some of the things you may want to do. There are trade-offs in economic policy everywhere.”

The two-year probe to be conducted by the NEC would not be limited to the mining sector but include sectors such as banking.

The NGC also agreed upon the setting up of a state-owned mining company and a state-owned bank. It was yet to be determined whether the bank would be a new institution or whether it would take the form of a “re-tooled” Post Bank.

Manuel said the debate on nationalisation had dominated the commission’s debate. He described the discussions on nationalisation as “flavoursome”.

“Like some of the curries in this part of the world, it was hot.

“We emerged with a position. The difficulty is how different this position is to positions already canvassed.

“The key issue is in the paragraph (in the report) of the NGC mandating NEC to do further work on this, to take evidence from all over the world and to give the policy conference in 2012 a sense of what works and what doesn’t.”

A special cabinet meeting will be held after the NGC to give attention to the country’s “new growth path”.

“Cabinet will have to sit down in a special session and deal with this,” Manuel said.

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