FROM BAD TO WORS: IMF’s familiar message to South Africa: ‘Eskom and Transnet should transform’

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Like a broken record, the International Monetary Fund’s message to South Africa in the aftermath of a staff visit sounds familiar. Sort out Eskom and Transnet, let the Reserve Bank carry on with its inflation targeting and cut ‘unproductive fiscal ...

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The Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed its latest staff visit to South Africa on 6 June. This typically involves meetings with “South African economic authorities” and ends with preliminary findings and proposals. These are usually aimed at accelerating economic growth and cutting public debt if the latter has reached worrying levels.

So, the dance continues to the tune of a record that often seems broken. On one hand, you have the IMF and its team of experts with their transparent pro-growth agenda. On the other, you have the South African government which is in the hands of the opaque, corrupt and dysfunctional ANC.

The IMF’s detractors will often point to its support for tight monetary policy, unless of course it comes in the guise of the “quantitative easing” that central banks in developed economies have pursued for years. Having said that, South Africa, for a number of reasons, is constrained from following that course, and hitting the printing press would just be a recipe for hyperinflation with catastrophic consequences.

And, generally, if a state is failing – and there is a case to be made here for South Africa on this front – then chances are the fiscal spending is “unproductive”.

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