President Cyril Ramaphosa attends a meeting in Pretoria on May 10 2018. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa attends a meeting in Pretoria on May 10 2018. Picture: GCIS

A cloud hangs over President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ambitious plans to revive the economy.

Two of the biggest contributors to GDP growth contracted in the first quarter, threatening the president’s plan to more than double growth and make a dent on the nation’s unemployment and poverty levels.

Figures from Statistics SA released on Thursday show manufacturing fell 1.6% year on year, while mining production was down 3.4%, its biggest contraction in two years in March.

These were indications that the economy had hardly expanded, said NKC economist Elize Kruger.

While figures for the retail sector, expected next week, would paint a full picture of the knock that growth was likely to have taken, forecasts suggested to muted numbers.

Economists across the board and institutions had revised their growth forecasts upwards, but the mining and manufacturing numbers indicated a risk to growth prospects, Kruger said.

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