Taking its cue from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona), the twin focuses of next week’s 2019 national budget will be on how the government plans to kick-start the economy and clean up state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Though nothing matters more than getting growth going, the budget will be judged on how it deals with Eskom — a matter that has become symbolic of all government’s failures. The government must reveal a credible plan to overhaul the utility’s business model to ensure it becomes financially self-sustaining. The goal is to relieve the fiscus from carrying the burden of perennial bailouts. This goes for the other loss-making SOEs too, including SAA, the SABC and the Post Office. But all this will take some time. Ramaphosa made it clear in the Sona that the government will continue to support Eskom’s balance sheet for now, but "will do so without burdening the fiscus with unmanageable debt". Given that the fiscus is already burdened with unmanagea...

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