After two years of relatively national upbeat budgets during the 2021/2022 commodities boom, we are now back in the doom and gloom budgets where every revision tends to be for the worse — and the budget arithmetic grows ever more difficult.

As finance minister Enoch Godongwana prepares to present this government’s last pre-election budget on Wednesday, it’s worth reminding him and his cabinet colleagues of some of the undertakings he outlined in November’s medium-term budget speech. Stabilising the public finances was one. Another was to ‘fast track growth-enhancing reforms’ — including a new financing mechanism for large infrastructure projects. A third resolve was ‘reconfiguring the structure and size of the state, while strengthening its capacity to deliver quality public services”...

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