JOHANNESBURG, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Fears are growing in South Africa that agreements to build nuclear power plants that could be the most expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.
Among those voicing concern, two government sources say the Treasury is not being included in procurement discussions, despite the massive budgetary implications of a project that experts say may cost as much as $100 billion.
Construction on the first plant is due to start next year, breakneck speed compared with the years of regulatory and environmental checks for nuclear projects in countries such as Britain and the United States.
The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, believes the pace of the deal will prevent proper analysis before contracts are signed and huge sums of money change hands.
“The whole deal has been veiled in secrecy. We have no details on what we’re buying, how much it’s going to cost or how we’re going to pay for it,” shadow energy minister Gordon Mackay told Reuters.
The Department of Energy (DoE) did not respond to requests for comment. It has said several times the procurement process will be transparent and follow procedure.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was forced this week to deny reports of tensions with the DoE over the plans and said the Treasury was playing a supporting role in the procurement process.
Pretoria has already signed non-binding inter-government agreements for nuclear power support from several countries including France, China and South Korea.
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