Cabinet ministers will in coming weeks be asked to cut their budgets further. While finance minister Tito Mboweni has agreed the fiscus will finance SAA to the tune of R10.4bn, he insists it will be done in a “fiscally neutral way”. That means the fiscal framework, as articulated in the June supplementary budget, will remain sacrosanct and no additional debt will be taken on to finance SAA. The additional money will have to come from existing budget allocations.

This is a trade-off Mboweni can live with. For SAA to fly, another government programme must take the pain. While all budgeting involves trade-offs, they are seldom as explicit as this one, which is happening outside the budget-planning process and involves scrambling for money for just one entity. With most departmental budgets slashed 20% in the June supplementary budget, ministers will again be asked to find more room to reduce spending...

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