The scourge of slow growth and rising unemployment that has plagued SA over the past decade has had two big consequences: rapidly increasing government debt and worsening poverty. Now, as demands grow for increased income support for unemployed adults, doubts are being raised about the sustainability of the country’s tax base.

Many South Africans are worried that, in the absence of faster growth, the small, ageing tax base will buckle under the burden of higher taxes — especially if a budget-busting basic income grant (BIG) is instituted by a ruling party desperate to shore up waning support...

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