University of Cape Town Professor Haroon Bhorat said on Friday that for South Africa to manage its deficit going forward, apart from hoping that growth gets kickstarted in the remaining part of the year, it has to move quickly in effecting revenue collection.
Bhorat, who is also a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council, was speaking in a virtual webinar discussion titled ‘Lockdown Economics – Will the economic recovery plan work?’, organised by the Accountability Now platform – a joint initiative between the Brenthurst Foundation and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung South Africa.
The platform’s primary focus is to monitor the economy in Africa and understand the politics behind development policy.
The webinar discussion follows the Thursday announcement of Ramaphosa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
Bhorat dismissed reports which suggest that South Africa has not spent enough.
He said, South Africa’s Covid-19 expenditure, as a share of gross domestic product, has been the largest in the emerging world, and larger than some high income countries like South Korea and Canada.
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Christian Endres said he wished Ramaphosa success and failure.
Success, because he believes Ramaphosa is the best man in the African National Congress (ANC) to move South Africa through its economic crisis.
He said he was terrified of somebody else taking Ramaphosa’s place in the ANC.
“At the same time I think that Ramaphosa is so limited by the ideology of the ANC and the absolute dominance of the ANC that he cannot generate the regeneration of South Africa. As a consequence, I wish him success in taking charge of the ANC and maintaining his political power, but I also wish him failure. I hope that the ANC does not maintain its absolute majority in the next election so that it has to confront its ideology and return to human dignity, at the same time freeing up the market to be the driver of the economy,” he said.
On inequality estimates, Bhorat pointed out a decline in the expenditure of households across the board.
He said, however, that the Covid-19 pandemic would reinforce overall inequality in South Africa and erode income in the middle income brackets.
Discussing job losses owing to the pandemic, he said 67% of job losses emanate from the tertiary sector and 30% from the secondary sector.
Bhorat revealed that at least 11%, or 250 000, of domestic workers had lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, the majority of workers losing their jobs are semiskilled, at 56%, or low skilled, at 35%.
Young, African males dominate job losses in 2020 while 52% of jobs are lost in the formal sector and 37% in the informal sector.