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Restructuring state assets has so far yielded R7.7bn - Manuel

WOZA SA news <www.woza.co.za>
25 May 2000

Johannesburg (Reuters) - The government has so far received R7.7 billion from the restructuring of state assets, which was well above expectations, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said on Thursday.

In a speech to parliament defending the government's Budget plans unveiled in February, Manuel said that the restructuring proceeds which the Exchequer had received so far was R3.7 billion more than the amount budgeted for. He gave no time-frame.

The government plans to raise at least R40 billion over the next four years from its restructuring programme, which has come under fire from its trade union and communist allies, who say it has worsened unemployment.

Manuel said that the investment grade rating which South Africa received from US ratings agency Standard & Poor's last February had led to a further reduction in debt service costs, making more money available for development and reconstruction.

Debt service costs now stood at 5.5 percent of gross domestic product, he said.

"For every one billion rand we don't borrow...we have R150 million more to spend on such things as education, on improving healthcare and on infrastructure," Manuel said.

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