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The National Treasury's growing list of commitments — such as funding struggling state-owned enterprises like Eskom and finding the means to deliver on the promise of free tertiary education — threatens the fiscus and raises the prospect of an IMF bailout. With the world's leading credit ratings agencies keeping a close eye on its spending habits, the treasury will be hard-pressed to seek out deficit-neutral methods of meeting these obligations in next month's budget. A pool of money that may help it plug the gaps is the unclaimed pension benefits pile, which, according to the Financial Services Board, totals more than R43-billion. The funds are unclaimed benefits owed to South Africans and migrant workers from the rest of the continent. Poor administration, misinformation, relatives ignorant of the benefits or the primary beneficiaries forgetting about the money altogether are some of the reasons the cash has been accumulating for decades. A portion of the funds will likely never b...

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