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Fiscal Renaissance in a Democratic South Africa

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  • Tania Ajam
  • Aron Janine

Abstract

South Africa has overcome adverse initial conditions to achieve a remarkable fiscal transformation since the 1994 democratic elections, held amid uncertainty about its ability to maintain the rule of law and resist populist spending pressures. Constitutionally based, durable and credible fiscal reforms have contained spending and rendered policy at all levels of government more transparent and accountable, and more predictable through multi-year budgeting. Extensive tax reform and more efficient tax collection have expanded revenue, permitting lower tax rates for both individuals and companies, and personal tax relief. Fiscal consolidation almost eliminated the budget deficit by 2005, and with improved debt management, has created a lower and more sustainable debt burden. While highly centralised revenue-raising powers and greater decentralisation of expenditure to sub-national governments created a vertical fiscal imbalance, a strict no-bail-out approach helped control provincial spending. The fiscal--monetary policy mix has stabilised the macroeconomy and reduced uncertainty, reflected internationally in narrowed sovereign risk spreads and improved debt ratings. However, microservice delivery in social expenditure has been disappointing (in some cases owing to capacity constraints rather than inadequate fiscal allocations), and a long-term decline in infrastructure investment and capital stock is only belatedly receiving attention. The challenge is to increase social and infrastructure expenditure at a sustainable rate and to improve the quality of service delivery, to avoid undermining the gains in macroeconomic stability. Copyright 2007 The author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) in its journal Journal of African Economies.

Volume (Year): 16 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (November)
Pages: 745-781

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:16:y:2007:i:5:p:745-781

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References

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  1. Željko Bogetic & Johannes Fedderke, 2005. "Forecasting Investment Needs in South Africa's Electricity and Telecom Sectors," Working Papers 36, Economic Research Southern Africa.
  2. Christopher Allsopp & David Vines, 2005. "The Macroeconomic Role of Fiscal Policy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(4), pages 485-508, Winter.
  3. S Berg, 2001. "Trends In Racial Fiscal Incidence In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 69(2), pages 243-268, 06.
  4. G. A. Mackenzie & Philip R. Gerson & David William Harold Orsmond, 1997. "The Composition of Fiscal Adjustment and Growth," IMF Occasional Papers 149, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Peter Perkins & Johann Fedderke & John Luiz, 2005. "An Analysis Of Economic Infrastructure Investment In South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 73(2), pages 211-228, 06.
  6. Fedderke, J.W. & Romm, A.T., 2006. "Growth impact and determinants of foreign direct investment into South Africa, 1956-2003," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 738-760, September.
  7. Servaas van der Berg, 2007. "Apartheid's Enduring Legacy: Inequalities in Education-super- 1," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 849-880, November.
  8. E Calitz, 2000. "Fiscal Implications of the Economic Globalisation of South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 68(4), pages 252-269, December.
  9. Johannes Fedderke, 2004. "Investment in Fixed Capital Stock: Testing for the Impact of Sectoral and Systemic Uncertainty," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(2), pages 165-187, 05.
  10. Stan Du Plessis & Ben Smit, 2007. "South Africa's Growth Revival After 1994," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 668-704, November.
  11. Fedderke, J. W. & Liu, W., 2002. "Modelling the determinants of capital flows and capital flight: with an application to South African data from 1960 to 1995," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 419-444, May.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti & José Tavares, 1998. "The Political Economy of Fiscal Adjustments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 197-266.
  13. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Stephen Broadberry & Leigh Gardner, 2014. "African economic growth in a European mirror: a historical perspective," Economic History Working Papers 56493, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  2. Estian Calitz & Stan Du Plessis & Krige Siebrits, 2011. "An Alternative Perspective On South Africa'S Public Debt, 1962‐1994," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 79(2), pages 161-172, 06.
  3. Kojo Menyah & Yemane Wolde-Rufael, 2012. "Wagner'S Law Revisited: A Note From South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 80(2), pages 200-208, 06.
  4. Stan Du plessis & Ben Smit & Federico Sturzenegger, 2007. "The Cyclicality Of Monetary And Fiscal Policy In South Africa Since 1994," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(3), pages 391-411, 09.

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