Finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s mid-term budget has shown that National Treasury has a growing exposure to state-owned companies – which are burning through the country’s money.
Government’s “major explicit contingent liabilities” are its guarantees to SOEs, which stood at R469.9 billion at the end of 2015/16.
Total guarantee exposure was R263 billion at the end of 2015/16, “because several entities had not fully used their available guarantee facilities”.
These guarantees remain a massive risk on the country’s books, as they rely on the companies that receive them to use the money to run a successful business.
However, South Africa’s SOEs have proven time and time again they are not capable of running profitable operations.
The guarantee exposure (which is a higher figure than the government guarantees) of prominent SOEs are listed below:
- Eskom – R170 billion
- Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa – R53 billion
- South African National Roads Agency Limited – R35 billion
- South African Airways – R19.1 billion
- South African Post Office – R4.4 billion
- Land Bank – R6.6 billion
- The Road Accident Fund – R155 billion
The graph below, courtesy of Economists.co.za, shows the government guarantees to state-owned companies and agencies over the last 10 years.