A team from the National Treasury is headed to the United States‚ where officials will address Moody’s‚ one of the leading international ratings agencies‚ which has yet to give its verdict on the country’s sovereign debt rating.
Within a week after President Jacob Zuma appointed Malusi Gigaba as finance minister to replace Pravin Gordhan‚ ratings agencies S& P Global and Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating to junk.
During the same week in April‚ Moody’s put the country’s local and foreign currency ratings on review for a downgrade‚ and is expected to announce its decision within 30 to 90 days.
Gigaba told a media briefing in Pretoria that his team will visit the United States to participate in the Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund‚ which will take place in Washington from Friday to Sunday.
“We are going to meet among others with Moody’s‚ only Moody’s‚ to give assurance in terms of policy direction of government because we will have an opportunity. They are the ones that have not downgraded us‚” Gigaba said.
“We need to engage with them‚ just to have a face-to-face interaction with them.”
Gigaba said he could not give a guarantee that Moody’s would not downgrade South Africa’s credit rating.
“We are quite confident that the South African economy is resilient enough … and that we are going to climb back to investment grade‚ so the setbacks we have suffered so far are temporary setbacks‚” Gigaba said.
Gigaba said the country’s institutions were strong. He said once a budget was adopted‚ government stuck to the budget and ensured that every department complied with it.
“So we do believe that ratings agencies understand that.”
Gigaba said his team would also have an opportunity to interact with some of the investors on a limited scale as this visit was not a full-blown investor roadshow.
“We think that we should not miss an opportunity to meet investors. We are going to be talking up our country‚” Gigaba said.
Gigaba also mentioned that with the imminent departure of Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile‚ the department would ensure that by the end of May‚ interviews would have been done with potential candidates.
“The idea of a South Africa Inc approach to engage investors has proven not only popular but productive and beneficial for the country‚” Gigaba said.