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HERCULEAN TASK

By: Darlene Creamer     10th July 2020 South Africa does indeed face what Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has described as a ‘Herculean Task’ if it is to navigate the twin Covid-19 and economic crises, while also avoiding a debt trap. Pencils will have to be sharpened and erasers will have to be on hand if South Africa is to make the... 

HERCULEAN TASK

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

COAL BURNERS:

By: Martin Creamer     13th December 2019 Big burners of coal should be forced to prevent emissions from carbonising and risking human health. Those who fail to do so should face the full might of even the inadequate laws in place, coupled with strong civic denunciation and protest. Clean renewables are now the undisputed harbingers of... 

COAL BURNERS:

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

EMISSIONS MUST BE ELIMINATED:

By: Martin Creamer     6th December 2019 Effective emission control is the only thing that is going to ensure ongoing demand for thermal coal in today’s climate-conscious world. The US Energy Information Administration reports the six main problem coal-burning emissions as sulphur dioxide, which the administration says contributes to... 

EMISSIONS MUST BE ELIMINATED:

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

BHP OPTS FOR BALL RETENTION:

By: Martin Creamer     29th November 2019 In the 1990s diversified mining company BHP was doing so badly that its BHP acronym was downgraded to Broken Hearted People. The company was so diverse at that stage that it was even trying its hand in gold in West Africa and in platinum in Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke. But its switch to a narrower oil... 

BHP OPTS FOR BALL RETENTION:

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

CURRENCY CAPER:

By: Martin Creamer     22nd November 2019 Paying for operating costs in weak currency and receiving payment for the product the operation produces in hard currency can have major financial benefits. For example, the current gold price is attractive in US dollars but even more so in South African rands. Or, to put it another way, gold... 

CURRENCY CAPER:

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

LET IT SHINE IN:

By: Martin Creamer     15th November 2019 Advanced industry, banks and natural resources have contributed to making South Africa a significant economy on the African continent. But to bring power to the remotest corners of the country, to maintain its economic growth momentum and grow ‘green’, South Africa must accelerate the adoption of... 

LET IT SHINE IN:

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

COAL PASSING ON THE BATON TO RENEWABLES:

By: Martin Creamer     8th November 2019 Many far-sighted coal company managers predicted that coal would, over time, pass on the energy baton to renewables, but few emphasised that this would be for compelling business reasons. Now renewables are coming in at below R1/kWh, which leaves coal and nuclear in their dust. There is longer... 

COAL PASSING ON THE BATON TO RENEWABLES:

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
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