Picture Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
JOHANNESBURG - Treasury was again able to put together not only a realistic national budget for 2018/19, but also showed that the government was serious towards bringing state finances back towards a healthy state.

The budget addresses infrastructure and other capital investment, tertiary education spending and land claims issues in a positive manner.

Financial markets as well as global investors embraced these good intentions.

The growth projection of the domestic economy, reaching 1.5percent in 2018 and rising to 2.1percent in 2020, set the platform for the government to implement healthy and responsible fiscal policy.

Although some criticism was levelled against the increase in value added tax (VAT) from 14percent to 15percent, analysts and economists mostly agree that it was the best way to address the R48billion tax short falls. The compensation measures to counteract the effect on the poor are in place in the form of increases in social grants and the lowering of income taxes for the lower income groups.

The increased capital expenditure on infrastructure, industrialisation and small business support were also welcomed by investors. The proposed savings in spending of R85bn in expenditure that will help to keep the deficit at 4.2percent of the gross domestic product, also had a positive effect on the financial markets and should contribute towards stopping any further downgrading actions by the rating agencies.

As a result, the all share index rose since last Wednesday, ending 1.4percent higher on Friday.

The rand also gained almost 20 cents to R11.54 from the morning before the budget.

The R186 bond rate also started to improve as the rate dropped more than 5percent since the budget and traded late on Friday at 8.03percent.

News that the inflation rate came down to 4.4percent in January also contributed to a 3.4percent surge in retail share prices.

Although the increase in VAT will have a once off effect on the inflation, it is still expected that the inflation rate will remain at levels close to 4.5percent for the rest of the year.

-Reuters