Governments have a key role to play in the business cycle, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Thursday.

"Guidelines are used to inform the government when the business cycle is down and then government steps in to help... to keep the economy going," Gordhan said at a televised New Age business breakfast.

When the business sector is doing well "government must retreat".

He said it was crucial that both government and business prepare not only for the upside but also the downside.

"Do whatever you can to help growth."

National Treasury deputy director general Andrew Donaldson said strategy was important to improve partnerships. - Sapa