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JOHANNESBURG, Jan 30 (Reuters) - South Africa’s economy is likely to grow by just 0.8% in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday, because of the weak performance of state companies and the government bailouts that are widening an already large deficit.
South African economic growth has slowed over the last decade. Debt has climbed rapidly as the government scrambles to plug a widening budget deficit and bail out state firms plagued by mismanagement.
On Tuesday, a state-owned bank gave South African Airways (SAA) 3.5 billion rand ($244.20 million) to keep it going as it wraps up a voluntary restructuring. The state power company Eskom got a 230 billion-rand bailout in 2019 as it struggled to service its 450 billion rand of debt.
“Weaknesses in public enterprises are resulting in poor service delivery and weighing on the fiscus through bailouts or administrative interventions,” the IMF said in a statement following a regular consultation this month.
Regular power cuts over the last 18 months saw the economy contract twice in two quarters last year. Communities where services like water and healthcare have failed have erupted in protests and riots.
A report last week by the country’s national science council showed blackouts by Eskom cost the economy up to 120 billion rand ($8.3 billion) in 2019.
“On current policies, staff projects a lacklustre growth recovery from an estimated 0.4% in 2019 to 0.8% in 2020 and 1.5% percent in the outer years,” the IMF said. ($1 = 14.3325 rand) (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana, editing by Larry King)