South Africa’s economy will contract by more than initially projected, likely shrinking 6.9% in 2020 compared to an earlier forecast of a 4.5% contraction, ratings agency S&P Global Ratings said on Monday in a report.
South Africa has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, with more than 270,000 infections, and 4,000 deaths, and is now recording the fourth-largest daily increase in new cases worldwide at more than 12,000 per day. S&P along with the other two main ratings firms, Moody’s and Fitch, already rate the country’s debt at below investment status, or junk. S&P cut its rating one notch to the third tier of non-investment grade, BB-, in April, with a stable outlook. S&P’s growth forecast is however more optimistic than National Treasury’s prediction of a 7.2% contraction this year. Treasury predicts debt to gross domestic product will breach 80% as government borrows more to fund its response to the pandemic. To cushion the economic blow of the pandemic on the economy, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 500 billion rand ($28.86 billion) relief package in April, equivalent to 10% of South Africa’s GDP.
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