S'African 2018 Budget 'll Repair Economy - Ministry

"This is a tough, but hopeful budget", commented Malusi Gigaba, South Africa's Finance Minister.

He says feedback from opposition political parties during the debate on the State of the Nation Address is also testament that there is a growing consensus and a paradigm shift that sees South Africa on the cliff of an economic-take off, a much needed response to the creation of more jobs and transformation. We needed a huge quantum of money so that we didn't go and increase our debt unsustainably. Analysts forecast this year's growth will jump to 1.8 percent.

Labour unions that backed Ramaphosa's campaign to win control of the ANC in December vigorously opposed a Value-Added Tax increase, arguing that the government should target wasteful spending instead.

Additionally, the EFF opposes a budget regime that raises VAT and targets the personal incomes of lower paid workers, to the exclusion of Corporate Income tax, as a means to raise revenue. "You can see our debt rates stabilising, you see our budget deficit improving". Through this budget, we will be able to make sure that we have a strong economy that will move forward without getting us into downgrade.

The budget underscored some of the challenges for Mr. Ramaphosa.

But treasury officials sought to project a relatively optimistic outlook as they assessed economic prospects for the immediate future. As some South Africans cheered the end to Mr Zuma's era, the rand currency strengthened against the dollar in early trading last Thursday.

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Benchmark bond yields fell 12 basis points to 7.99% on Wednesday, dropping below 8% for the first time since May 2015.

At 0655 GMT, the rand traded at 11.75 versus the dollar, 0.17 percent weaker from its overnight close in NY.

Mr Zuma resigned after years of scandals that damaged the reputation of the ruling ANC, which had instructed him last week to step down or face a parliamentary motion of no confidence that he would nearly certainly lose.

The budget allocates an additional R57bn over the next three years to finance a plan announced by Zuma late last year to fund free post-school education for poor students. "The population was offered a refresher course in democracy, legal systems, the economy, state-owned business and how safeguards failed us".

The annual budget speech could be Gigaba's first and last with Ramaphosa widely expected to replace him and several other Zuma appointees in a cabinet reshuffle.

After the speech, Gigaba told Reuters: "We will be able eventually perhaps in 18 months to 24 months to return to investment grade".

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