'Gordhan has tough task of reassuring ratings agencies'

The opposition says the minister should avoid raising taxes when he delivers his budget.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - One of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's chief tasks when he delivers his budget will be to steer the country clear of being downgraded to junk status by investment ratings agencies.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says Gordhan also has to tackle unemployment, provide relief to poor households, deal with the student fees crisis and ease the impact of the drought.

The party presented its views on the budget at Parliament today.

DA finance spokesman David Maynier says Gordhan's in a tight spot.

"Whether we like it or not, the ratings agencies are circling South Africa like sharks, ready to downgrade us to junk status. Ratings agencies matter. A sovereign ratings downgrade has the potential to turn an economic crisis into an economic catastrophe."

DA PLEADS WITH GORDHAN NOT TO RAISE TAXES

At the same time, the opposition says the minister should avoid raising taxes when he delivers his budget.

The party says the money should be found through real spending cuts and selling off non-strategic state assets such as the government's stake in Telkom.

Maynier says Maynier says Gordhan has his work cut out for him and very little room to manoeuvre.

"The minister is in a tight spot with very little space and even less political space that is available to respond to the financial crisis and the risk of a sovereign downgrade."