South Africa is on the brink of a fiscal cliff and unless the economy improves significantly the government could find itself in Washington, cap in hand, begging for a rescue package from the IMF. While policymakers seek some room to tinker with levies such as those imposed on fuel to soften the impact of higher petrol prices on consumers, there simply is none. The fiscus, according to a person close to the National Treasury, is in a "desperate" revenue situation. "We are probably in a worse situation today than we were when government decided to go on Gear [the growth, employment, and redistribution strategy]. We should have been much more brutal, frozen salaries in the public sector. Our politicians don't want to anger the unions. "I'm beginning to feel that we're almost going to go to the IMF because our politicians can't make hard decisions." At the end of 2017, South Africa's debt-to-GDP ratio sat at an all-time high of over 53%, compared to a record low of 27.8% in 2008. A few...

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