Hilary Joffe Columnist

The dire set of financial and operational results that Eskom presented this week was a disturbing reminder of a risk that SA will have to face sooner rather than later, as it counts the cost of the damage done to the economy in the years of state capture. That risk is that the reforms required to stabilise public finances and make them sustainable over the medium to long term could come at a very steep cost in the short term - and SA will have to make some tough choices on what it can and can't afford. There's the R20bn-plus cost of saving SAA, which is supposedly less than the R40bn-plus cost of letting it go under. There are the billions of rands which will be needed upfront to fund early retirement packages for civil servants to cut government's wage bill over time. And dwarfing all of these is the potential cost of an Eskom bailout. It's long been clear that government's guarantees to ailing state-owned enterprises, Eskom in particular, are one of the biggest risks to SA's publi...

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