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Discussing why so many government policies end up drifting towards nowhere, one of the senior Reserve Bank staff I spoke to a while back diagnosed this problem as "agenda creep". In his estimation, it all starts off with a policy designed to do one thing, before clueless-but-eager politicians infuse all their pet agendas into it. Before you know it, that policy has morphed into such an overweight flabby beast, it can’t move at all.

There is no more apt example of a critical policy being hijacked, and distorted out of all shape, than the tourism relief fund. Launched in March 2020, the R200m fund was meant to give small tourism firms which were in ICU, thanks to Covid, some breathing room until the lockdowns eased...

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