Here's how to look at our budget deficit properly

JSE

South Africa's budget deficit for this year is R370 billion.

(That's the difference between the money government receives in taxes and the amount government spends by borrowing.)

This triggered a thought as to what we could have spent that money on as a nation, and as I started by taking a look at companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

The useful thing about  listed companies is that it's very easy to get a universally accepted sense of what they are worth. It's called Market Capitalisation, or just Market Cap for short. Take the number of shares a company has issued, multiply it by the price of one share, and boom.

So here are the top 50 companies in South Africa, courtesy of Sharenet:

Name Full Name Market Capital
1 PROSUS PROSUS N.V 1,801,739,145,630
2 BATS BRITISH AM. TOBACCO PLC 1,526,825,899,496
3 ABINBEV Anheuser-Busch InBev SA NV 1,476,456,362,767
4 NASPERSN NASPERS LIMITED 1,080,132,935,700
5 BILLITON BHP GROUP PLC 596,744,765,241
6 GLENCORE GLENCORE XSTRATA PLC 558,651,462,527
7 RICHEMONT COMPAGNIE FIN RICHEMONT 543,454,200,000
8 ANGLO ANGLO AMERICAN PLC 510,937,425,618
9 FIRSTRAND Firstrand Limited 315,365,415,416
10 ANGLOPLAT ANGLO AMERICAN PLATINUM CORPORATION LIMITED 301,401,869,431
11 STANBANK STANDARD BANK GROUP LIMITED 246,940,917,688
12 VODACOM VODACOM GROUP LIMITED 212,941,976,826
13 SANLAM Sanlam Limited 158,222,184,933
14 CAPITEC CAPITEC 157,716,371,993
15 MONDIPLCP MONDI PLC PRE 156,037,562,740
16 MTN MTN GROUP LIMITED 146,162,805,128
17 ANGGOLD ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI LIMITED 132,184,054,369
18 OLDMUTUAL OLD MUTUAL PLC 124,638,459,519
19 SIBANYE SIBANYE GOLD LIMITED 118,362,396,741
20 SASOL SASOL LIMITED 116,595,053,673
21 ABSAG ABSA GROUP LIMITED 114,454,819,171
22 SOUTH32 South32 Limited 112,272,373,920
23 IMPLATS IMPALA PLATINUM HOLDINGS LIMITED 105,927,956,867
24 RMBH RMB HOLDINGS LIMITED 102,164,961,886
25 BIDCORP BID Corporation Ltd 99,450,702,900
26 KUMBAIO Kumba Iron Ore Ltd  97,688,675,914
27 SIBANYE-S SIBANYE STILLWATER LTD 92,849,592,240
28 GFIELDS GOLD FIELDS LIMITED 92,573,352,686
29 REMGRO REMGRO LIMITED 86,839,218,678
30 NEDCOR NEDBANK GROUP LTD 85,935,585,839
31 OMUTUAL OLD MUTUAL LIMITED 78,020,733,963
32 SHOPRIT SHOPRITE HOLDINGS LIMITED 73,456,068,718
33 NEPIROCK NEPI ROCKCASTLE PLC 72,773,394,397
34 DISCOVERY DISCOVERY HOLDINGS LIMITED 67,553,795,328
35 CLICKS CLICKS GROUP LTD 65,278,260,151
36 BIDVEST THE BIDVEST GROUP LIMITED 63,580,261,550
37 REINET REINET INVESTMENTS SCA 62,997,082,861
38 NORTHAM NORTHAM PLATINUM LIMITED 60,077,715,834
39 QUILTER QUILTER PLC 56,668,060,209
40 GROWPNT GROWTHPOINT PROPERTIES LIMITED 55,734,833,284
41 PEPKOR PEPKOR HOLDINGS LIMITED 55,108,043,919
42 INVPLC INVESTEC PLC 54,238,757,594
43 MEDCLIN Mediclinic Int plc 52,690,815,100
44 ASPEN Aspen Pharmacare Hldgs 49,661,927,660
45 PSG PSG GROUP LIMITED 45,808,131,646
46 MCGROUP MULTICHOICE GROUP LTD 42,574,144,750
47 EXXARO EXXARO RESOURCES LIMITED 42,359,680,579
48 MRPRICE MR PRICE GROUP LIMITED 39,996,315,121
49 RMIH RAND MERCH INS HLDGS LTD 39,336,823,533
50 WOOLIES WOOLWORTHS HOLDINGS LIMITED 38,848,170,658

Let's look at some of our favourite retailers: Woolies market cap comes in at a modest R38,85 billion; Mr Price comes in at R39,99 billion;  Pepkor at R55,10 billion; Clicks at R65,27 billion; Shoprite at R73,45 billion. Let's throw in Growthpoint Properties at R55,73 billion (because they are landlords of a lot of those retail outlets) and let's add Multichoice at R42,57 billion (because we need entertainment).

That gives us a nice total of R370 billion.

Yes, my fellow South Africans: with our overspend of R370 billion this year, we could have bought out Woolies, Mr Price, Pepkor, Clicks, Shoprite/Checkers, Growthpoint Properties, and Multichoice.

What is our government spending that money on? Yes, salaries for public servants.