Russia, Ukraine conflict may impede global economic recovery

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The rising oil price, the potential weakening of the rand against the United States dollar, and supply constraints around wheat, pose upside risks to food and headline inflation.

This is according Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana who noted that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine carries with it significant risks for a world economy that is yet to fully recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The longer the conflict lasts as well as the imposition of further sanctions could lead to widespread global inflation and impede global economic recovery,” Godongwana said on Wednesday.

He made these remarks in Parliament during the debate on the 2022 Fiscal Framework and Revenue Proposals.

“On the positive side, we expect that the rally in export commodity prices, stemming from supply concerns brought about by the conflict, will provide added support to the local mining sector and a possible windfall to revenue collections,” the Minister said.

The recently released Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the fourth quarter of 2021 by Statistics South Africa shows that the economy grew by 1.2 percent, after shrinking by 1.7 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

“This is 0.2 percent lower than the Treasury estimations. Overall, South Africa’s economy grew by 4.9 percent last year, compared to the COVID-19 driven contraction of 6.4 percent in 2020. This represents a slightly better growth than estimated by National Treasury.

“There were improvements in a number of sectors namely: agriculture, manufacturing, services and transport. Of concern are declines in mining production, construction, electricity, government and financial services,” the Minister said.

He called for the acceleration of the pace of inclusive economic growth and job creation.

“This must shape all our macro and micro economic policies and interventions. It is only through a sustained economic growth that South Africa will be able to significantly reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“As outlined in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, and emphasised in the State of the Nation Address as well as the Budget Speech, we must act urgently to deepen social compacting and broaden consensus around what needs to be done to pull our economy out of its poor state,” the Minister said.

In this regard, work has begun to finalise a series of social compacts with various social partners.

“Efforts to grow our economy will not only depend on macro-economic interventions. We must continue with our reform agenda – in energy, telecommunications, rail, ports water and sanitation, as well as in boosting tourism and attracting rare skills into our economy.

“We are encouraged that the spectrum auction began yesterday, and will be complete by the end of this month. This will support lowering the cost of data; improving broadband coverage including in rural areas; increasing broadband speeds; and the rollout of 5G,” he said. –