Neels Blom Writer at large

Of all the scary things finance minister Tito Mboweni said in his medium-term budget policy speech last week, this was the worst: “We need to demolish the walls that exist between the public and private sector.” The notion is that a good relationship — one based on trust — between the government and business is good for the country and good for the economy. At first glance this appears to be true, if only because business tends to whine a lot about government hostility and its growth-killing brinkmanship. The trouble is, the clamour assumes that a good relationship — a trust relationship — is desirable. Really? Business wants business to prevail; the government wants (in conflation) the state to prevail. This is the basis of distrust, and it is a good thing, because the relationship between the parties is a turf war. The government wields regulation, and business has the constitution for a shield, while parliament writes the rules of engagement. In a war, either party would be daft ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now