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An alternative perspective on South Africa’s public debt, 1962-1994

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  • Estian Calitz

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Stan du Plessis

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

  • Krige Siebrits

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

The history of public debt reflects the cumulative effect of fiscal decisions and real outcomes in the economy. In the South African case the published record on public debt distorts the historical perspective on the associated fiscal decisions. This note shows the impact of adjusting the South African public debt on an accrual basis to take account of two major obligations assumed in the first half of the 1990s, namely actuarial pension fund deficits and government debt of the apartheid homelands. The adjusted series is less volatile and rose less steeply between 1989 and 1996 than the official, cash based debt series. Failing to account for the evolution of these obligations exaggerates the impression of weak fiscal discipline in the early nineties and exemplary fiscal prudence in preceding decades.

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File URL: http://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2010/wp192010/wp-19-2010.1.pdf
File Function: Revised version (version 2), 2010
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 19/2010.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision: 2010
Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers118

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Keywords: South African public debt; fiscal discipline; accrual classification; pension fund deficits; sub-national debt;

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  1. Janine Aron & Tania Ajam, 2007. "Fiscal Renaissance in a Democratic South Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2007-10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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