5 must see charts. Why Gordhan’s budget is critical. | Fin24
 
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5 must see charts. Why Gordhan’s budget is critical.

Feb 24 2016 18:17

Some are calling it Pravin Gordhan’s rubicon moment, while others just say it’ll be his toughest budget yet. But why? According to the Bloomberg stats below South Africa’s debt has almost doubled since Zuma became president in 2009 while growth forecasts are being downgraded to below 1%. They paint a gloomy picture, but it’s always better to know than to live in the dark.

The ball is in Gordhan’s court, let’s see what he has up his sleeve to help address the many challenges the country faces. Five must see charts before the speech kicks off at 2pm today. – Stuart Lowman

By Rene Vollgraaff

All eyes are on South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan when he delivers his budget speech on Wednesday to see how he balances support for a weak economy with curbing debt.

These five charts show why this budget is one of the most keenly watched since President Jacob Zuma took office in 2009.

Gross debt has almost doubled to close to 50% of gross domestic product since Zuma took office seven years ago amid a recession and market turmoil following the global financial crisis. Sluggish economic growth and rising debt led credit-rating companies to gradually downgrade South Africa’s sovereign rating since then.

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Standard & Poor’s has a negative outlook on its rating of BBB-, the lowest investment grade. Fitch Ratings has an equivalent assessment on South African debt, with a stable outlook, while Moody’s Investors Service rates the nation two levels above junk.

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To narrow the budget deficit and keep debt under control, Gordhan may raise taxes, including on personal income, fuel or even the value-added tax rate. The VAT rate has stayed unchanged at 14% for more than two decades.

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A 1 percentage-point increase in VAT could raise as much as R15bn a year in additional income, according to BNP Paribas Securities South Africa. While doing that may help fill the revenue hole, it would be politically risky in a year when the ruling African National Congress wants to win votes in local-council elections.

4

Key to Gordhan’s budget is how far he can push up taxes without further hurting the economy and fueling protests. The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and South African Reserve Bank have all cut their 2016 economic growth forecasts to less than 1%, and Gordhan will probably reduce the government’s current projection of 1.7%.

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biznews  |  budget 2016  |  sa economy  |  credit rating
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