SA’s 29,000 millionaire civil servants; SAA up for sale; rand rattled; Mboweni’s last Tweet; ratings downgrade looms; Brexit latest

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  • South Africa’s budget deficit is set to come in at just under 6%, from the previously estimated 4.5% and last year’s 4.3%, it was confirmed when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni released his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. The budget deficit gives the country similar financial ratios to Pakistan and Argentina. Mboweni has urged Parliament that “Clearly we need to do things differently - there is no status quo option.”
  • A staggering 29,000 public servants earn over R1m a year. To put this into perspective, the government wage bill has risen not far off 70% in a decade, with double the number of doctors, police officers, Members of Parliament and other civil servants who were earning the equivalent about 10 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Mboweni has his eye on dramatically cutting this wage bill, and the spending perks associated with working for the South African government, including cars, phone and subsistence allowances. Also underscored on Wednesday is that not least of all because tax collectors will bring in a whopping R53bn less than expected; and state-owned entities continue to eat up vast chunks of taxpayers’ funds, with Eskom leading the way. The government is throwing more money at SAA - about R5bn. The SABC gets an additional R3.2bn. For the full details of the ‘mini budget’ and independent analysis on the statement and what’s next for South Africa, visit BizNews.com where you can listen to and read fascinating and useful insights from BizNews editor-in-chief Alec Hogg, who caught up with Mboweni after the announcements.
  • Some disappointing news for the 450,000 people who follow Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Twitter, the finance minister has decided to give up Tweeting. He broke this news in a Tweet: “After a long thought process, I have decided not to do any original tweets anymore. I might, just might, retweet (not endorsement). I came to the conclusion that Twitter is no longer about its original purpose: ie to create a networked society. It is now an abusive platform.”
  • South African Airways is up for sale. South Africa’s government is talking with potential investors in the state-owned airline to ease the continuing burden the company puts on the national budget, reports Bloomberg. “I am pleased to learn that there are conversations involving South African Airways and potential equity partners, which would liberate the fiscus from this SAA sword of Damocles,” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni told lawmakers in Cape Town Wednesday.
  • The rand plummeted and bonds extended declines as investors faced the stark reality of what bailouts for the embattled state power utility will cost South Africa, says Bloomberg. “The currency retreated 2.95%, the most since September and the biggest drop in emerging markets, to 15.05 per dollar, as of 10:30am in New York. The yield on local-currency debt due 2026 jumped 23 basis points to 8.44%.”
  • Brexit is still a dream for Boris Johnson, who faced his arch rival Jeremy Corbyn in their first face-to-face clash of the UK’s general election campaign. The prime minister called for the poll on Dec. 12 as a way to break the deadlock over the country’s divorce from the European Union, says Bloomberg. He has no majority in Parliament and has failed to get his Brexit deal ratified in the House of Commons.

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