Hilary Joffe Columnist

When the then finance minister Pravin Gordhan presented his first medium-term budget policy statement in October 2009, in the depths of the global crisis, he spoke of a difficult time - but pointed to signs that the economic recovery had begun.He revealed that tax revenue would fall R70bn short of budget targets and that the budget deficit would be more than 7% of GDP - but that unlike other countries, SA could and would keep spending even as economic growth and revenue plummeted, "because we entered the economic downturn with a budget surplus and a healthy fiscal position".No longer. As we go into the 2019 medium-term budget on Wednesday, the fiscal position is terrifyingly far from healthy and SA is in crisis in a way it never was 10 years ago. The economy is stuck in its longest downturn on record and finance minister Tito Mboweni will have to slash economic growth forecasts yet again. Economists see this year's budget deficit coming in closer to 6.5% than the 4.5% pencilled i...

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