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Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service has followed its downgrade of South Africa’s credit rating with a similar demotion for Eskom, citing a negative outlook for the company. Moody's downgraded the long-term corporate family rating of Eskom and its zero coupon euro bonds, leaving it two levels below investment grade. Moddy’s also downgraded the utility’s default rating.

SA economy unlikely to meet growth targetsThis is the latest in a string of knocks that the South African economy is dealing with, and one of the factors that prompted Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to state that South Africa may not realise its expected 2017 growth projection of 1.3%. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 0.7% between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017, following a contraction of 0.3% between the fourth and the third quarter of 2016.

“This trend unfortunately implies that our economy has entered into a recession,” Gigaba said at a press briefing. “Our sovereign credit rating has huge macroeconomic impact, and affects government, business and ordinary South Africans alike. We are committed to restoring it to a favourable investment-grade rating with a positive outlook as quickly as possible.”

Following these developments, President Jacob Zuma called a meeting of key ministers in order to formulate a strategy to push the economy out of recession. “The president has stressed the urgency of a co-ordinated response, and is convening a full-day meeting of various economic clusters and ministers responsible for key sectors, to address obstacles delaying the finalisation of policy processes and agree urgent timelines,” Gigaba told South African media.

Gigaba also stated that Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been urged to meet with stakeholders in the mining sector to deal with their concerns regarding the newly announced Mining Charter. “We express the wish of National Treasury that the minister will engage with those sectors as a matter of urgency to ensure that we do not have consequences that are going to weaken the economy further,” he said.

“We need to want to do the right things for our economy and our society, not just because credit ratings agencies are watching. Obviously these developments are not what we would have hoped, however it is critical that we are not despondent at this time.”

Image Credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

 

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