Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The date for the medium-term budget policy statement has been changed from October 23 to October 30 to accommodate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s engagements.

This was confirmed by various sources, including the chair of parliament’s standing committee of finance, Joe Maswanganyi, on Thursday.

The new date for the tabling of the medium-term budget policy statement will be of concern to Moody’s Investors Service, which plans to release its updated sovereign credit rating for SA on November 1. Moody’s is the only credit ratings agency that has not assigned SA to junk status and its rating will determine movements in the bond market and in capital flows.

Maswanganyi said finance minister Tito Mboweni was keen to have the president present when he delivers his speech on the medium-term budget policy statement, which will provide an update of the Treasury’s growth and revenue expectations for the year. These are expected to be much lower than those provided in the February budget.

The statement will also provide an updated picture of the deteriorating fiscal situation and how the government plans to absorb the additional R59bn allocation to Eskom that will enable the utility to meet its debt service obligations. This allocation is provided for in a Special Appropriation Bill, which is currently being processed by parliament. Already departments have been warned of severe cuts to their budgets as the government faces the prospect of a soaring debt to GDP ratio and a rising budget deficit.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, refused to comment on the matter, including whether the president had requested the change in date, referring all queries to parliament.  

“We don’t move dates, we don’t request dates, check with parliament on that matter,” she said “I don’t speak on dates of sittings of parliament.” 

However, a possible reason for Ramaphosa’s unavailability on October 23 is that he will be attending the Russia-Africa summit headed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will be held in Sochi, and is expected to will bring together the leaders of African countries.

According to the Russian Tass news agency, leaders from more than 50 countries on the continent were invited to the summit, and more than 40 of them have already confirmed their participation.

With Lynley Donnelly