How does the budget manage to look so good when the economy looks so bad? One answer to this question is it could have looked even better if not for the Eskom debt relief, which will ultimately bring the total in state bailouts to Eskom to more than R517bn over a 17-year period. But, we are now promised, this will finally get the state-owned power utility into shape and open up the power market.

Another answer is that it would have looked a great deal worse without the post-Covid commodities boom. That has helped provide the revenue overruns that have enabled the government to turn a fiscal crisis into something that starts to look more like fiscal consolidation...

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