South African Finance Chief Says Legalize Pot to Fill the Hole in Budget

(Bloomberg) --

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has high hopes that legalizing the marijuana industry can help plug the nation’s yawning revenue shortfall.

Tweeting from his farm in Magoebaskloof in the northeastern Limpopo province on Sunday, Mboweni said he urgently needed to raise more tax and decriminalizing cannabis could help accomplish that goal.

Mboweni is due to outline plans to contain spending and bolster income in his annual budget speech on Feb. 26. Power shortages have constrained growth, and as a result the National Treasury is confronting a 52.5 billion rand ($3.53 billion) revenue shortfall for the year through March.

Mboweni previously tweeted that legalizing marijuana could add more than 4 billion rand to the economy. The finance minister also uses his feed to comment on economic policy and give cooking tips to his more than 507,000 followers.

While South Africa’s Constitutional Court legalized the private use and cultivation of marijuana in 2018, it remains illegal to buy and sell it.

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