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WAITING TO EXPLODE

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd July 2020 South Africa will inevitably have to take on more debt as it seeks to address the economic, health and social damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, the country needs to be extremely wary of allowing the pandemic to light the fuse on a full-blown debt crisis. A failure in this regard... 

WAITING TO EXPLODE

FISSION QUESTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     26th June 2020 The priority being given to the procurement of new nuclear capacity by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has many scratching their heads. For one, there is no allocation for nuclear in the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) to 2030. There is no sign that the private... 

FISSION QUESTIONS

STIMULUS PRIORITIES 

By: Darlene Creamer     19th June 2020 South Africa’s fiscal space was already limited ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, it’s close to non-existent. The postpandemic fiscal priority, therefore, should be to ensure that every rand spent has the greatest economic and social impact possible so as to extricate the country from what... 

STIMULUS PRIORITIES

HEAT IS ON

By: Darlene Creamer     12th June 2020 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will present his special adjustment Budget on June 24, realigning the 2020/21 Budget presented in February to the fiscal and economic realities now confronting South Africa in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mboweni is refusing to call it an emergency Budget,... 

HEAT IS ON

SECOND NATURE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th June 2020 In welcoming the transition from lockdown Level 4 to Level 3 from, organised business immediately recognised that the pressure was now on its members to prove that the easing they had long sought could be implemented safely. Business Unity South Africa president Sipho Pityana said it was critical... 

SECOND NATURE

TRICKY NEXT STEPS

By: Darlene Creamer     29th May 2020 Some have described hard lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic as the ‘hammer’ and easing as the ‘dance’. South Africans are going to have to show remarkable skill and agility as we begin our own dance. Besides wearing face masks, engaging in physical distancing and continuing with... 

TRICKY NEXT STEPS

FALLING FAST

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd May 2020 The economic outlook for 2020 is beyond dismal. While the South African government’s swift and decisive response to the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be faulted, it has come at a huge economic cost. Thousands of businesses are in grave peril and millions of jobs are at risk. Business confidence has... 

FALLING FAST

RISING FROM THE ASHES

By: Darlene Creamer     15th May 2020 Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan disagrees strongly with any winding down of South African Airways (SAA), which he says was never the original purpose of the business rescue process. Nevertheless, with South Africa’s fiscal resources stretched to breaking point as finance is redirected... 

RISING FROM THE ASHES

ON A KNIFE-EDGE

By: Darlene Creamer     8th May 2020 The restrictions imposed to delay the spread of the Covid-19 virus have given our healthcare system much needed space and time to prepare for a peak in infections. As the lockdown restrictions are eased South Africans would do well not to adopt a fatalistic stance regarding the spread of... 

ON A KNIFE-EDGE

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

By: Darlene Creamer     1st May 2020 South Africa desperately needs to get its already fragile economy going again. The extended lockdown has left many firms in a precarious position and millions of jobs are on the line. As operations ramp-up, however, it cannot be business as usual. Sensible precautions will have to be taken to... 

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

NEXT PHASE

By: Darlene Creamer     24th April 2020 As Professor Salim Abdool Karim so expertly outlined in his April presentation outlining the possible next steps for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa will need to find ways to extinguish any small flames of the disease that emerge post-lockdown so as to ensure that they do not become... 

NEXT PHASE

REFORM & STIMULATE

By: Darlene Creamer     17th April 2020 The effectiveness of South Africa’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic could be significantly boosted if it is accompanied by the structural reforms that have long been required to bolster the country’s growth potential. In the absence of such reforms in areas such as energy and... 

REFORM & STIMULATE

COVID-19 FALLOUT

By: Darlene Creamer     10th April 2020 The full economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are not yet clear. What is certain, however, is that the virus, and the response to it, is kicking lumps out of businesses and economies. For South Africa, it’s a triple whammy. Besides the institution of a growth-sapping lockdown in response to... 

COVID-19 FALLOUT

LOCKDOWN LEGACY

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd April 2020 The economic effects of the 21-day lockdown are likely to be painful and long lasting. The monetary authorities have acted swiftly to increase liquidity, while the fiscal authorities have also made some initial accommodations and are likely to have to make even more. It’s premature to put a... 

LOCKDOWN LEGACY

ECONOMIC HEALTH WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     27th March 2020 There is now little question that the world economy is heading for a recession in 2020 as governments, correctly, adopt extreme measures to ‘flatten the Covid-19 curve’ such that it does not seriously breach the capacity of their health systems. The real issue now is what actions can be taken to... 

ECONOMIC HEALTH WARNING

GOING DESTRUCTIVELY VIRAL:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th March 2020 There were already some concerns at the start of 2020 that the global economy was showing signs of slowing. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, however, the outlook has worsened considerably. Frontline sectors such as aviation and tourism are under extreme pressure, but it is becoming... 

GOING DESTRUCTIVELY VIRAL:

FISCAL FIREFIGHT

By: Darlene Creamer     13th March 2020 There is little question that South Africa’s powerful public-sector unions are preparing for a showdown with government over the 2020 Budget, which contains wage-bill cuts of R160-billion over three years when compared with the baseline contained in the 2019 Budget. Cuts of R37.8-billion outlined... 

FISCAL FIREFIGHT

CEO WITH A FULL KITBAG:

By: Martin Creamer     6th March 2020 Incoming CEO Natascha Viljoen’s full kitbag of experience will stand her in good stead when she takes over the reins of Anglo American Platinum on April 16. One group mine that she is likely to find a pleasure to lead is the rich Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine. This mine gushes cash. Its... 

CEO WITH A FULL KITBAG:

SERVED UP COLD

By: Darlene Creamer     28th February 2020 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who is known to moonlight as an amateur chef, lacked some critical elements when he delivered his 2020 Budget this week. Besides lacking the fiscal spice and electric power required to provide some much-needed economic heat, Mboweni was also not able to turn to his... 

SERVED UP COLD

BAD IDEA 

By: Darlene Creamer     21st February 2020 While State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are crashing and burning all around us, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s big hairy audacious goal for overcoming the failures of our largest SOE, Eskom, is . . . wait for it: to set up another power-generation SOE as a back-up to Eskom!... 

BAD IDEA

CARPET OR RUG?

By: Darlene Creamer     14th February 2020 Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe got pulses racing for the right and wrong reasons earlier this month. Firstly, he indicated that he was finally ready to roll-out the red carpet for self-generation projects by amending Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to make it... 

CARPET OR RUG?

NO WORKLOAD SHEDDING:

By: Terence Creamer     7th February 2020 There will be no honeymoon period for Eskom’s new CEO, Andre de Ruyter. South Africans are beyond frustrated at the poor performance of the State-owned power utility and irritated by the prospect of not only having their taxes used to bail-out the entity, but for such injections to be accompanied... 

NO WORKLOAD SHEDDING:

DELICATE OPERATION

By: Darlene Creamer     31st January 2020 On February 26, all eyes will be on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni when he delivers the 2020 Budget. No doubt, National Treasury officials are working tirelessly and with surgical precision to ensure that the Budget operation (consolidation with the least pain possible) is not only a success, but... 

DELICATE OPERATION

HIGH YIELD:

By: Martin Creamer     24th January 2020 Top of Anglo American’s mind in bidding for London-listed Sirius Minerals is planet earth’s need for greater crop yield from less farmland. Anglo sees an opportunity to achieve this by turning Sirius’ polyhalite project in the UK to positive account and then selling the multi-nutrient fertiliser... 

HIGH YIELD:

NO ESCAPE

By: Darlene Creamer     17th January 2020 The wreck of South Africa’s ‘lost decade’ looms large in the rear-view mirror as we enter the 2020s. The country’s ‘decade horribilis’ was characterised by load-shedding, which sapped confidence and undermined growth, gratuitous corruption, which ripped at the very fabric of society, and the... 

NO ESCAPE

BITTER TASTE

By: Darlene Creamer     13th December 2019 In what is arguably the biggest corporate scandal since Steinhoff, several former Tongaat Hulett executives have been fingered in what appears to amount to accounting fraud. This “undesirable accounting” has been confirmed through a PwC forensic investigation, which is likely to result in the... 

BITTER TASTE

CLOCK IS TICKING

By: Darlene Creamer     6th December 2019 There is growing frustration at the lack of progress in initiating bidding processes for the procurement of new electricity generation. Despite the fact that the Cabinet-endorsed Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) outlines an urgent need for between 2 000 MW and 3 000 MW to address a gap... 

CLOCK IS TICKING

SUSTAINABILITY TAILSPIN

By: Darlene Creamer     29th November 2019 For two decades, possibly even longer, South African Airways’ (SAA’s) operational and financial sustainability has been highly questionable. Various turnaround strategies have been attempted but, in the end, it was always left to the taxpayer to foot the bill when these failed. That was a costly... 

SUSTAINABILITY TAILSPIN

SALDANHA SHUTDOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd November 2019 ArcelorMittal South Africa announced this month that it would be placing the Saldhana Steel mill on care and maintenance. The decision was attributed to a steady erosion of the input cost advantages on which the facility was originally built. Saldanha, the company said, had incurred substantial... 

SALDANHA SHUTDOWN

TIME FOR KICK-OFF

By: Darlene Creamer     15th November 2019 During 2019, South Africans arguably came to terms with the damage caused by State capture to the country’s economic playing field, as well as its key players. It became clear that repairing the pitch and revitalising our damaged economic muscle would take longer, and be more painful, than... 

TIME FOR KICK-OFF

WATER WORRIES

By: Darlene Creamer     8th November 2019 Following an extremely dry start to the rainy season in the north-eastern parts of the country and with ongoing drought conditions in other regions, concerns over water security are increasing. Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has urged South Africans to urgently... 

WATER WORRIES

INCONVENIENT TRUTH

By: Darlene Creamer     1st November 2019 The fact that South Africa has not procured any new electricity capacity from independent power producers since 2014 is biting. Despite absolutely no demand growth for a decade, the country is failing to keep the lights on largely because Eskom’s undermaintained coal fleet is unable to operate... 

INCONVENIENT TRUTH

WRESTLING OVER REVENUE

By: Darlene Creamer     25th October 2019 For years, Eskom has been unhappy with the way the Energy Regulator has been applying the methodology used for calculating the State-owned utility’s allowable revenue. This calculation is highly contested by various stakeholders, as it is used to determine Eskom’s tariff adjustments. For years,... 

WRESTLING OVER REVENUE

ON THE MENU

By: Darlene Creamer     18th October 2019 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will not have his staple Lucky Star pilchards available to add some much-needed flavour to what is likely to be a relatively foul-tasting Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). The statement, which will be released on October 30, is likely to be dominated by... 

ON THE MENU

BACK TO THE FUTURE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th October 2019 After a short-lived profit reprieve in 2018, South Africa’s upstream steel industry is under severe financial pressure yet again. In fact, it’s looking more and more like “déjà vu all over again”, to steal Yogi Berra’s famously redundant quotation. South Africa’s largest producer ArcelorMittal... 

BACK TO THE FUTURE

SINKING FEELING

By: Darlene Creamer     4th October 2019 For several years, the South African economy has been dragged down by politics and politicians. During the Jacob Zuma Presidency, corruption and State capture tore into the economy much like the proverbial iceberg that tore through the Titanic’s hull. Under President Cyril Ramaphosa the economic... 

SINKING FEELING

PULLING THE RUG

By: Darlene Creamer     27th September 2019 With little or no prospect of cash-strapped Eskom being able to close the country’s emerging supply gap, South Africa’s reliance on independent power producers (IPPs) is undoubtedly going to rise further. Given that background, government’s plan to review the existing IPP contracts appears... 

PULLING THE RUG

GROWTH PUZZLE

By: Darlene Creamer     20th September 2019 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has come in for some heavy criticism following the release, for public comment, of an economic strategy document. The howls of disapproval have also not been confined to the opposition benches, with members of the governing Tripartite Alliance showing as much... 

GROWTH PUZZLE
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