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The interest rate hike of 50 basis points last week will be tough for many highly indebted South Africans to swallow, eating further into what’s left of their disposable incomes after substantial increases in electricity and water tariffs, as well as fuel prices that have climbed 29% in the past year.

FNB estimates that it takes an average of five days for a middle-income consumer to spend up to 80% of their monthly salary. Low-income earners are taking more of a battering, but the alternative of rampant inflation will bring far more severe consequences, both for income earners and for the poor. Fighting inflation is essentially a pro-poor intervention...

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