With little more than two months to go to October's medium-term budget, the fiscal news is not looking good, raising the prospect that the ratings agencies could again be on SA's case later this year. The focus in October tends to be on the spending side of the budget and at this stage it's the spending risks that economists and National Treasury officials are mainly worrying about: the public sector pay deal that's going to cost government R30bn more than it budgeted for, the bankrupt state-owned enterprises in need of bailouts, the tens of billions of rands of unpaid bills in the provincial government system, and more. All of that raises the risk that the government could breach its self-imposed expenditure ceiling, raising red flags for ratings agencies, particularly Moody's, which is the only one which still has an investment-grade rating on SA. But the revenue side of the budget should also be cause for concern, and this is highlighted by the latest monthly figures from the Tre...

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