Government has confirmed that Michael Sachs, a deputy director general at the National Treasury, has indeed resigned. According to reports, Sachs was tired of the continuous interference from the Presidency.
A statement from the National Treasury said: “National Treasury confirms the resignation of its Deputy Director-General: Budget Office, Michael Sachs. Mr Sachs has expressed his interest to serve the public sector in a different capacity. Mr Sachs will not be leaving National Treasury immediately to ensure a proper handover to another senior official and to allow for a smooth transition with as little interruption to the work of the Budget Office as possible. Mr Sachs works with many knowledgeable technocrats who he has also helped groom over his years at the department.
“The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, is saddened by Mr Sach’s resignation but has thanked him for his excellent service, and strong commitment to the national budget as well as the department over the years. The Minister has wished Mr Sachs well in his future endeavours.
“Both the Director-General and I are aware of protecting the integrity and transparency of the Budget system and process, and ensure that all tax and expenditure decision processes continue to be run by the Treasury and Minister of Finance, and continues with the consultative process introduced by the first democratic government,” Minister Gigaba said.
“The Minister wishes to assure the nation that Treasury remains committed to a budget that focuses on fiscal consolidation and mindful of the economic challenges of the country while protecting the poor.”
Allegations have surfaced that the reason he resigned was because of a President Jacob Zuma who had proposed a free higher education policy that would cost R40-billion, but Sachs opposed this due to an already highly strained budget.
Senior officials, including Sachs, have said there is no way they could possibly find an extra R40-billion within the current budget to fund Zuma’s proposed plan.
The policy would work in favour of families who earned under R350 000 – their children would be eligible for the free education policy. It has been reported that Sachs was not against the idea of the policy, but that he would not stand for interference in the budget process.
It is alleged that Zuma wanted to make the announcement during his State Of The Nation Address – but was stopped due to budget constraints.
Photography: Russel Roberts