Rising debt-to-GDP ratio a concern, says Tito Mboweni
The country is growing; it’s economy is not, says the finance minister
The upward trajectory of the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is set to reach 60.2% in 2023/2024 and 60.1% the following year, is an issue of concern, finance minister Tito Mboweni said in parliament on Thursday.
He warned that this trend will lead commentators to talk of the dangers of a debt trap and lead people to think that SA cannot manage its finances and that it might need assistance.
Mboweni said the debt-to-GDP ratio should be managed down to below 40%.
In terms of the Treasury projections, the ratio is set to climb steadily from the 56.2% forecast for 2019/2020 before starting to come down from 2025/2026.
Mboweni and the Treasury team lead by director-general Dondo Mogajane briefed members of four parliamentary committees on the budget, which was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.
The biggest risks to the fiscal framework are the state-owned enterprises — in particular Eskom, SAA and Denel — and the public-sector wage bill.
Mboweni highlighted the demands being made on the fiscus despite the lack of revenue. It is surprising, he said, that no matter how many times one explains the constraints, the demands on revenue are not moderated.
The population is growing, putting increasing pressure on expenditure items such as hospitals and schools, at a time when the economy is not growing.