ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said that South Africa had the highest debt to GDP ratio in sub-Saharan Africa. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA

Durban - African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe said on Wednesday that South Africa had the highest debt to GDP ratio in sub-Saharan Africa, which urgently needed to be addressed by government. 

Meshoe made the remarks during the first presidency budget vote in the National Assembly, and was quoting a report released on Tuesday. 

"Yesterday, the Institute of International Finance published its global Debt Monitor, which reportedly puts South Africa’s debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at almost 60%, after reaching 59.3% in the first quarter," said Meshoe. 

He said that according to the report, the country had seen the biggest debt to GDP increase in the sub-Saharan Africa region during the quarter – up from 54,7% in 2018 - and that government's struggle to rein in date was cited as the main contributor to the increase.

During his State of the Nation address, president Cyril Ramaphosa called for a relentless focus on economic growth. Economists welcomed the undertaking, but cautioned that policy uncertainty was at the root of South Africa's stunted growth.

Meshoe said government needed to do "far more" to reduce the high levels of public debt and the escalating debt service costs, which were the fastest growing budgeting item to date.

"More money should be used for service delivery and infrastructure maintenance, rather than on servicing debt, which South Africans want to see reduced," said Meshoe. 

African News Agency (ANA)