When the Covid-19 pandemic first hit SA shores and we joined much of the world in self-imposed lockdown, the policy focus was on mitigating the economic damage it was clear would result. In the end, we emerged with a 7% GDP decline over 2020. The economy is now anticipated to bounce back quite well in 2021 with projected growth of about 4.2%, though the longer term remains uncertain. To our good fortune, the recovery has been buoyed by a commodities mini-boom, which could make growth look still better and will be good for government revenues.

Some economic losses are permanent though: many small businesses closed (one survey published in collaboration with the department of small business development put this proportion at 47.9%) and as we saw in the employment numbers released this week the 1-million jobs shed in 2020 have not been recovered. The unemployment rate, which includes only those actively seeking work, rose slightly to 32.6%...

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