South Africa's MTBPS Needs to Win Next Year - and in the Medium Term

(file photo)

This weekend, my household, like many others in South Africa, was fixated on the rugby. By half-time, my eight-year-old daughter was trying to understand who was playing better. The score was marginally in South Africa's favour. However, the rhetoric she was hearing suggested we weren't playing so well. Finally, she resorted to asking if possession determined `playing better'.

Next week Wednesday (30 October), Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is due to present his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) to Parliament. Prior to 2015, the MTBPS was there to extend the three-year fiscal framework by another year (in this case, he will include the projections for the year ended 31 March 2023). With the persistent deterioration in South Africa's finances over the last five years, this has become a widely watched policy document.

In October 2017, the then finance minister Malusi Gigaba opted to mark-to-market the deterioration - he reflected the weaker growth and R50-billion revenue shortfall without taking any policy action to reverse the decline. Perhaps it is unfair to blame Gigaba entirely when it was the dysfunctionality of the ANC that was culpable. The government's inability to take any hard decisions at that juncture eventually led to the loss of...

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