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'We need to do things differently': Mboweni delivers grim MTBPS

After flatlining in the first six months, the economy was expected to grow only 0.5% this year compared to the 1.5% forecast in February.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni at a media briefing after delivering the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on 30 October 2019. Picture: @TreasuryRSA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has laid bare just how precarious the country’s finances were with a Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement studded with grim figures.

The statement contained no detailed spending plans or tax proposals, which would only come in the annual Budget in February.

But in his speech on Wednesday afternoon, Mboweni said tax measures might be necessary to raise R150 billion over the next three years.

"Our expenditure continues to exceed our revenue. Our national debt is increasing at an unsustainable pace. The economy is not performing that well."

After flatlining in the first six months, the economy was expected to grow only 0.5% this year compared to the 1.5% forecast in February.

"Growth is projected to slowly rise to 1.7% in 2022, a situation which is not pleasing at all, supported by private household consumption and private sector investment."

Some positives included signs that investment spending was strengthening and low inflation at 4.1%.

But tax collection was short by nearly R53bn, the consolidated budget deficit was now projected at nearly 6% of GDP in the current year and the government’s debt was soaring.

"This year, the national debt exceeded R3 trillion. It is expected to rise to R4.5 trillion in the next three years. Clearly, we need to do things differently."

WATCH: 'SOEs must learn to stand on their own feet' - Mid-term Budget highlights

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