Risk 'high' for S.Africa's economic recovery: finance minister

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South Africa's economic recovery - battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, riots and endemic graft -- will be difficult, the finance minister of the continent's most industrialised economy warned on Wednesday.

Economic growth is projected to be 2.1 percent this year, dropping to an average of 1.8 percent over the next three years, Enoch Godongwana said as he tabled the government's annual budget statement.

"Our economic recovery has been uneven and risks remain high," he said. "We must proceed with caution."

Restrictions imposed last year and in 2020 to control the spread of Covid-19 brought most economic activity to a standstill and plunged millions of people into unemployment.

With more than 3.6 million Covid cases and nearly 99,000 fatalities, South Africa is the continent's hardest-hit country.

Godongwana said his budget was aimed at striking "a critical balance between saving lives and livelihoods, while supporting inclusive growth".

South Africa was also rocked by riots in July last year which wiped more than $3 billion off the economy's books after businesses were looted in the two most populous provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

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