South Africa's government cut its GDP growth forecast for 2014 to 2.7% from a 3.0% previously announced in October, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his last budget speech for the government’s 2014 budget before the elections scheduled on May 7.
Preliminary data from Statistics South Africa showed earlier this week that South African economy has grown 1.9% in 2013 and the government also forecasts the GDP growth will accelerate to 3.2% in 2015 and 3.5% in 2016.
The government’s latest GDP growth estimates fall short from the country’s average 5% GDP growth performance recorded in the five years prior to the 2009 recession and are seen unsatisfying to slash about 25% of unemployment rate.
Despite the decline in GDP growth forecasts, the government also cut its budget deficit forecast to 4.0% of GDP for 2014/15 fiscal year from a previous forecast of 4.1% announced in October. It also cut the budget deficit forecast for 2013/14 fiscal year ending in March to 4.0% of GDP from a previous 4.2%.
As the reasons for the government’s recent cut in its budget deficit forecasts despite the simultaneous declines in GDP growth forecasts, Gordhan cited the decline in projected government spending, despite elections in May, and the increase in tax revenues due to the ZAR depreciation. The government’s forecasts contain economic uncertainty and a new round of wage negotiations in 2015, according to Gordhan.
The government forecasts headline CPI inflation to accelerate to 6.2% this year from 5.7% in 2013 and to decelerate again to 5.9% in 2015. A weak ZAR is seen as a significant risk for the country’s inflation outlook. South African government also forecasts a current account deficit to GDP ratio of 6.1% for 2013, 5.9% for 2014 and 5.8% for 2015.
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