Question NW3978 to the Minister of Finance

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22 December 2023 - NW3978

Profile picture: Mabiletsa, Ms MD

Mabiletsa, Ms MD to ask the Minister of Finance

(1)What does investors demand for premiums on debts to compensate for the risk of investing in the Republic imply on the relationship between the State and the financial sector considering that he stated in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement that regardless of the maturity profile of loans and bonds that most of the debt is domestic; (2) whether the premium demand is one of the key factors determining the fiscal policy trajectory based on investor risk fears; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


1. The predominance of domestic debt indicates that the local financial sector is heavily invested in government bonds and loans. This scenario fosters a mutually dependent relationship, wherein the financial well-being of the government significantly influences the stability and health of the domestic financial sector. If this risk premium were to increase (due to an impairment in risk perceptions) and National Treasury were not to include this increased premium into the price of government bonds, investors would choose to invest their cash in other instruments (i.e. corporate bonds or equity, which offer better return, albeit at greater risk). This would result in government being unable to borrow the funds necessary to finance the borrowing requirement. The same principle would apply when borrowing in foreign markets; however, there is less quantum demanded for South African bonds at attractive rates in the international markets. Higher premiums on government debt can lead to crowding out of private investment, as the government absorbs a significant portion of available credit. This can slow economic growth, affecting both the state and the financial sector. The risk premium highlights the need for sustainable borrowing practices, efficient debt utilization, and a clear plan for debt reduction.

2. Risk premiums, while a considerable factor, are not the sole determinants of fiscal policy. They are, however, a critical indicator of investor confidence and perceived risk. When investors demand higher premiums, it reflects their concerns about the country's ability to repay its debts, often influenced by factors such as political stability, economic performance, and fiscal management. Most domestic investors in government debt, such as pension funds and insurance companies, are crucial for the country's financial and economic stability. If the government's debt becomes unsustainable, these institutions could face severe challenges, impacting a broad spectrum of the population. The instances of US regional banks facing near collapse due to holding weakened debt, highlights the tangible consequences of fiscal mismanagement and the importance of maintaining liquidity through the appropriate government loans. It underscores the need for prudent fiscal policies and sustainable debt management. Chapter 3 of the MTBPS emphasizes government's commitment to sustainable debt management, ensuring that borrowing is balanced with economic growth and fiscal responsibility. This along with reforms in the Logistics, Electricity, Water and Communications sectors will ensure that government plays its part in reducing the risk premium.

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