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Like the charge of an elephant, the approach of bankruptcy focuses the mind. When the money runs out, it’s run out. What applies to businesses and households applies equally to governments; in this instance the SA government. It cannot succumb to defeat, cowering in a corner until the IMF rides to the rescue. It had to show a face, to the ratings agencies as much as anybody else, that virtually intractable problems are within its ability to reverse. And it had to so in advance of the jobs and investment summits, or they’d have been destined for despair. Unable to create money from mist – the SA Revenue Service is seriously behind in its collections, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are on tenuous life support – it has still to stabilise the economy and begin attempts to generate job-creating growth. Thus it comes up with an “economic stimulus and recovery plan” where, aside from bites at low-hanging fruit, pride of place is the infrastructure fund. But how to fund an infrastructur...

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