Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has not had it easy lately, after his MTBPS in October. Photo: Supplied/GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Government fully recognises ratings agency S&P Global’s assessment of the problems and opportunities facing South Africa, and remains committed to placing public finances on a sustainable path while aiming for inclusive economic growth, the National Treasury said on Saturday.

Government had noted S&P Global’s decision to affirm South Africa’s long-term foreign currency debt rating at "BB" and local currency debt rating at "BB+", as well as revise the outlook to negative from stable.

"South Africa’s foreign and local credit ratings by S&P Global remain below investment grade. According to S&P, the outlook revision indicates that South Africa’s debt metrics are rapidly worsening as a result of the country’s very low GDP growth and high fiscal deficits," the National Treasury said in a statement.

The agency stated that unless government took measures to control the fiscal deficit and fast-track the implementation of reforms, debt was unlikely to stabilise within S&P Global’s three-year forecast period.

"Government fully recognises S&P’s assessment of the challenges and opportunities which the country faces in the immediate to long-term and remains committed to placing public finances on a sustainable path while aiming for inclusive economic growth," the Treasury said.

The agency had acknowledged the work the government had started doing to restore the credibility of the country’s weakened institutions, for example the reinvigoration of the National Prosecuting Authority and South African Revenue Service.

Furthermore, the agency acknowledged the credibility of the South African Reserve Bank and the flexible exchange rate regime to be key strengths supporting the country’s ratings.

Meaningful progress had been achieved on the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in September 2018. Government remained committed to implementing much needed economic reforms in order to revive the country’s economic growth.

"Furthermore, government reiterates that the growth in the public sector wage bill needs to be addressed in order to reduce the debt burden. Government, labour, business, and civil society need to work hand-in-hand, as difficult decisions that imply short-term costs for the economy and fiscus need to be made in order to turn the tide around," the National Treasury said.

African News Agency