Annual report exposes National Treasury on nuclear: DA

A National Treasury official received training in nuclear finance, sponsored by South Korea, at an estimated cost of R500 000 in the 2014/15 financial year.

This information listed among others in the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report contradicts claims by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson that the Treasury had only recently been invited into the decision-making process on the financing of the nuclear build programme, the DA said on Sunday.

South Africa has signed five international nuclear agreements with Russia (which is seen as the preferred bidder), France, China, South Korea and the US as it moves ahead with the procurement for its nuclear energy programme. A decision is due in March 2016.

The DA said in a statement the annual report shows that the National Treasury had clearly done more work on the feasibility, financing and assessment of alternative energy options, including nuclear energy, than the minister has been prepared to disclose; and much of the work was completed before the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

The DA said the 2014/15 annual report shows the Treasury:

  • conducted and completed extensive work on nuclear energy during the 2014/15 financial year;
  • some of the work was included in the decision-making process and submitted to the Department of Energy during the 2014/15 financial year; and
  • an official, or officials, from the National Treasury, received training, at an estimated cost of R500 000, in nuclear finance, which was sponsored by South Korea.

“We cannot sit back and allow the nuclear build programme to go ahead in secret given the massive financial implications for South Africa,” the DA said.

Vladimir Slivyak, a Russian environmental policy expert that first leaked Russia’s agreement with South Africa, said the cost of building eight nuclear reactors would cost R1.37trn if Russia’s Rosatom wins the bid. The nuclear build programme aims to add 9 600 MW into Eskom’s electricity mix.

The DA said Nene had not disclosed the fact that the National Treasury conducted and completed extensive work on the proposed nuclear build programme in the 2014/15 financial year.

The report shows the National Treasury’s Urban Development and Infrastructure Unit completed a study on the feasibility of inter alia nuclear energy for electricity generation in South Africa before the end of the 2014/15 financial year, the DA said.

According to the annual report, the unit “completed the update of the liquid fuels sector investment study and several studies on the feasibility of gas, nuclear and regional hydro for electricity generation”, while another unit completed a report on financing nuclear energy.

The annual report states that the Treasury’s Oversight and Governance of State-Owned Enterprises Unit “finalised the report on financing nuclear options, models and solutions and presented to the Nuclear Sub-Work Group on corporate finance and procurement; compiled a memorandum and letter formally submitting the report to the Department of Energy (DOE)”. Again, this report was completed before the end of the 2014/15 financial year, the DA said.

According to annual report, the Treasury’s National Capital Projects Unit, also completed “several in-depth studies on short and long-term energy generation options for South Africa”.

The DA said on Sunday although there is no explicit mention of nuclear energy, the National Capital Projects Unit’s in-depth studies “almost certainly include nuclear energy as a possible energy generation option for South Africa”.

It said Joemat-Pettersson “is walking a political tightrope because the National Treasury has more than likely raised serious questions about the feasibility of the nuclear build programme”.

The DA said it will request the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, to schedule a briefing by the National Treasury on the work conducted and completed on the nuclear build programme by the National Treasury; and the economic and financial implications of the proposed nuclear build programme for South Africa.

Fin24

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Annual report exposes National Treasury on nuclear: DA