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The finance minister’s recent budget was SA’s most important in years. Tito Mboweni faces a tricky balancing act. Spending and economic pressures from the pandemic have caused government debt to soar to 80% of GDP in 2020/2021, up from 66% the year before.

The economy cannot grow fast enough for the inflated fiscal deficit to dissipate of its own accord. Spending cuts and more revenues are needed to pay back the country’s escalating debt. But premature fiscal consolidation risks harming economic growth and delaying the recovery...

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