Economy & Business;
Our Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement has come and gone and there is little to be said about our economy which is not common news. The following is our Finance Minister’s part-solution to the problem: “We propose a strategy of spending adjustments based on policy priorities and a reconfiguration and rationalisation of the state, which includes closing or merging ineffective entities and programmes and enhancing the complementarity of its functions.” The difficulty with this statement is that, whilst it sounds good, I have little faith that it will be implemented fully; furthermore, the reduction of 1% in government spending is inconsequential seen against the rise in overspending.
The good news (depending on one’s perspective) is that the NHI can has been kicked down the road as money will be shifted away from the existing grant to cover oncology spend. Further good news (again, depending on one’s perspective) is that our debt to GDP ratio is expected to top out at 77% by 2026/2027; you might recall that during COVID that predicted percentage was 80% – at least an improvement of sorts!
We approach a crucial threshold – the World Bank had said that countries, whose debt exceeds 77% as a percentage of the size of its economy for prolonged periods, would experience significant slowdowns in economic growth (ex Citadel). Interestingly, the US government debt to GDP ratio currently stands at 121% – clearly horses for courses.
Our burgeoning state spend shortfall must obviously be addressed, which has led to speculation regarding tax increases, cuts to the deductibility of medical costs from tax and so on. Our, presumably right-wingers of course, call for a cut in spending. Others, left-wingers…? (Think AIDC), say that our government should be spending more, drawing the income required from a tax on the wealthy. An interesting debate, more pointedly so for the few with skin in the game.
“In South Africa, the largest sources of tax revenue have been individual (over 40%) and value added tax (around 25%), followed by corporate tax (between 15 and 20%). The following chart, from Codera, shows that there are big differences across countries in dominant sources of tax revenue.”
Our economic slowdown has resulted in an uptick in private sector credit extension and a rise in vehicle repossessions by banks.
I came across an opinion, by an Oxford economist, who notes that we have a generally accepted understanding that an economy (and by extension the measure of its growth, being GDP) must ever grow, which is clearly not sustainable. The difficulty with her insight is that no clear-cut alternative is presented.
Our government wants to create another state-owned company which will be responsible for managing the state’s participation in petroleum rights. A method of siphoning off the “massive” profits that mining companies are supposed to be taking from us who would own the land, but who cannot extract its wealth?
The Gautrain rail system is planned to extend into Polokwane and lower-income areas in Gauteng and, of course, our government wants to secure a public-private partnership funding model.
Rhodes University is expanding its business school offerings – worth a look.
Spoor strikes again, this time in a class action suit against coal mining companies.
An interesting development, in our Transnet saga, is that those mining companies who would use its services, have been asked to help pay off Transnet debt to the Chinese. At the same time came a report that its first third-party access to freight services has failed in that the “privatisation” of the Kroonstad/East London line has collapsed. Only the brave would go into partnership with our state.
Having shaded the Kiwis at rugby, cricket, and sheep shearing… both Auckland and Wellington are rated above Johannesburg as best cities in the world to raise a family.
Minister Blaine Nzimande has not covered himself in glory in appointing an administrator for Unisa, after a contrary order from the High Court.
Our Home Affairs Minister has been sanctioned by the Concourt for his/Home Affairs’ culpability in the shambles and delays surrounding the Immigration Act; this finding was bolstered by a personal cost order against the Minister and his DG. Would he really pay from his own pocket?
Our RAF is in a class of its own (except for Nummawan) when it comes to buying time. Not only is it balking against following up on court orders, owing to its inability to pay in terms of court orders against it, but it’s CEO is in trouble for this very reason. Undoubtedly legislation, limiting the RAF’s potential exposure to claims, will follow.
The RAF is in trouble owing to a judgement for execution against it in which 62 claimants had not been reimbursed by it. The RAF attorneys have appealed, but have been warned that a punitive costs order may follow owing to the frivolous litigation they took on. Par for the course.
The RAF CEO has been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to imprisonment for three months, suspended for a year, on condition that the RAF complies with a January 2018 court order. I confess to hoping for a default?
Our courts on hopeless cases:
Our attorneys’ Fidelity Fund is also teetering on the brink of insolvency, as especially our brothers in the Eastern Cape, have personally pocketed enormous sums due to claimants from the RAF. Either the Fund’s liability will be curtailed, or we will pay more for membership/insurance.
Of late, much has been written on the abysmal service rendered by the offices of the Master of the High Court. But rest assured, this is not true: our Justice Minister, the honourable Lamola, says that this is not so – there you have it! Interestingly, in the same breath he refers to efforts to improve service delivery, including providing Internet access facilities and so on. So, I checked; the website is Reference – I entered my recently deceased wife’s particulars and lo, nothing. The other website, which was supposed to have come into being at the end of last month is Reference and which, again, unsurprisingly, does not function. But then Mr Lamola, presumably, has greater things to busy himself with.
The recent Concourt judgement, allowing men parental leave, should be noted:
An article on the redistribution of pension benefits of parties, married after November 1984, is worth noting by those who do divorce work: Reference
An interesting note on sexual harassment claim against the SABC (by ENS) noted that such a claim is technically a debt and prescribes in three years: Reference
An article, dealing with property rights in polygamous marriages, may be of interest to those who deal in black estates, on a regular basis: Reference
An interesting note on the effect of the absence of annexures to the validity of a contract to which they were supposed to be attached, is examined in this article: Reference
Our Post Office has practically ceased to be relevant. No drafter of contracts should therefore use registered letters as a means of giving notice. Having said this, a note by McRobert on our courts’ acceptance of digital notice of default in terms of S129 of the NCA is worth a look: Reference
The SCA on Shifren clauses: Reference
Do restraint of trade agreements survive the transfer of the business? Reference
Can a will be revoked by video? Reference
Is the weighting of directors’ vote permissible under the Companies Act? I hold an article by Bloomberg SC on the topic – ask me for a copy.
The city of Ekurhuleni has suspended processing rates applications – temporarily. When it will resume providing the service, is unknown.
I hold a note by West on how to deal with Muslim marriages – ask me for a copy.
I recently dealt with an error that was made in an ANC – instead of a S4.1.b application, the conveyancer cancelled bilaterally and re-registered; quite unusual.
I hold the final series in Paddock’s series on life rights – ask me for a copy; even better, ask me for a copy and subscribe to their publications.
The Electronic Document Registration System, which exists only on paper… has been renamed as Digideeds. Great news!
The average total return, on professionally managed South African investment properties, for the first six months of this year is 3.5%. I understand that a return of 8 – 13% is the international norm.
Bond applications for home loans are down by some 25%.
Distressed homes sales have almost doubled in the past year.
Collins Property Group is in the process of acquiring REIT status.
Going into partnership with the state; be careful:
Balwin Properties, the developer of Mooikloof Mega City, east of Tshwane, and one of the government’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects is still, three years later, waiting for the government to fulfil its promise to provide R1.4bn for bulk infrastructure.
The ECDC wants to raise R900m in private investment funding and R465m in public funding by the end of the 2028 financial year to modernise its property portfolio. Its teaser invites one to invest in greenfield developments for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes… again, only the brave.
Diversity, a developer of run-down properties into affordable, mixed-use developments, has launched such a development in Salt River.
Atterbury has opened a new retail development in Pretoria east, Village Walk.
There is talk that our government wants to regulate rentals of residential accommodation; think Airbnb. Interestingly, Airbnb reportedly supported some 50,000 jobs in South Africa last year and earned hosts some R4bn.
Newsworthy in the past week or so were the following:
Amcu detaining workers underground: I have no information regarding the correctness of the following view, but I would be surprised if it were incorrect: I have little doubt that Amcu would have been recognised by the mine management, had it complied with the requirements for recognition – this leaves but the probability that this union was attempting to force recognition by intimidation.
The Israeli/Hamas imbroglio is in the news daily. One accepts that the Palestinians have valid complaints but then, the issue at hand is now virtually 80 years old and cannot be wished away. When an organisation (not a state) attacks a paraat bunch like Israel, it should expect retaliation and, if it conceals itself within a population, it should not complain of civilian casualties.
I often see videos of police officers at the site of unpleasantness and repeatedly marvel that persons of their girth could catch anyone – especially those fleet footed hungry chaps we see bound from time to time. For the private sector to become involved in the conditioning of police officers is scandalous as one would expect those in charge to enforce physical readiness in that corps.
Much publicity was given to the abysmal matriculation rates of those who start off in our schools. Saftu capitalised on this by calling for those who lead us to enrol their families and themselves in public schools and submit to treatment in public hospitals. Very true and politically incisive, but the fact is that elites very rarely mix with commoners.
When hearing the Prez speak of “challenges” that need to be overcome my gut reaction is cynical, in that the appointment of the incapable and corrupt is to be laid at his party’s door. Having said this, expanding services over the past 25 years or so to those who had little, without the capital funding needed, necessitated the overworking of available resources. The fact is that our resources have always been too small for those who would drink at its fountain and that, frighteningly, our tax base barely supports what needs to be done for all to live well in the future.