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By Zweli Mokgata
The World Cup will add R38-billion to the South African economy this year - more or less the amount spent by the country in hosting the tournament, minister of finance Pravin Gordhan said on Friday.
The minister estimated that the World Cup had created 130000 jobs - in the construction of stadiums and other facilities, and the tourism and feeder industries. The new infrastructure would act as a magnet for investment as well as improve the lives of citizens, Gordhan said.
"Once you build a road, it doesn't disappear the day after the World Cup ends," he said. The "soft" benefits were equally important, he added.
South Africa has attracted far more foreign fans than expected to the tournament, particularly from South America.
"At one stage we were talking about 300-and-something thousand and then down to 250000, and probably we're closer to the 500000 figure now. In June alone, there were about 200000 people that came in," Gordhan said.
The extra fans could give the economy a bigger boost than the government's estimate of an added 0.4 percentage points on GDP growth this year.
Gordhan's comments came after the release of promising statistics on new vehicle sales by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa). The sector was one of the worst hit during the recession, and the association reported that 39931 new vehicles, led by Toyota, were sold during June - a 20.7% jump compared to the same month last year.