With punishing new Time Of Use tariffs for electricity, it seems that Joburgers will suffer even when the power is on.]]> |||
It’s going to be a long, cold and expensive winter for tens of thousands of Joburg households if they don’t curtail their use of electricity.
Under the new Time Of Use (TOU) tariffs approved by the national energy regulator and announced by City Power this week, the cost of power will be two-and-a-half times more in peak period in winter than it will be during peak in summer.
Clever consumers will be able to effect considerable savings on their power bills by shifting to gas for cooking and heating, introducing solar power, and installing timers to prevent geyser operation during peak periods.
The price shock is driven by the utility’s attempt to reduce increasing reliance on electricity as a source for both heating homes and cooking.
According to City Power, electric water heating and cooking are major contributors to the evening peak demand for power.
Consumers could realise greater savings by reducing power consumption ahead of winter, either by using energy- saving appliances or developing smarter practices at home.
A typical household will pay up to R262.09 for peak-period consumption in winter under TOU, while it will cost about R109.89 during the same period in summer, the utility said.
The residential TOU tariff will initially be introduced to households that are now on City Power’s smart metering system. There are more than 50 000 smart meters installed in households so far.
The utility said this week that the objective of the new tariff system is to improve the continuity of supply as high demand for electricity during winter overloads the network.
“Electricity is going to be more expensive in winter with the new tariffs, unless people convert to using gas and other alternatives,” said Paul Vermeulen, City Power’s manager of demand and supply side management. “The whole idea is not for people to change to TOU and do nothing about it. The message is for the consumers to also change their habits. If you don’t, then there is no benefit. This very same system also applies to large power users.”
Vermeulen said this was not a way to make money for City Power because the utility wanted to reduce its purchases of electricity from Eskom during winter periods.
Earlier this month, City Power announced plans to get off Eskom’s load-shedding grid by June.
“It is a difficult situation that we are in right now. I think we are the only company that tells the consumer not to buy more of our product,” he said.
“From a customer point of view the message is ‘go for a gas heater, solar heating or other alternatives’. If you are an industrial factory, working at night shifts the load significantly and reduces your electricity bill and consumption.”
Sicelo Xulu, City Power managing director, said the introduction of the TOU tariff underlined the utility’s commitment to help augment the security of supply and provide a means by which much-needed savings to consumers can be realised. “City Power’s introduction of a time-based tariff system is informed by its commitment to provide services to its hard-pressed consumers by incentivising and rewarding them for changing their usage patterns, while at the same time ensuring security of supply by lessening the pressure on the grid,” he said.
“Load shedding is a fact of life that we have to contend with for the foreseeable future and we need to explore any conceivable solutions to ensure that we keep the lights on.”
Eskom is expected to increase its tariffs by over 8 percent in the next four years in order to fund its infrastructure backlog.
“By opting for alternative energy solutions such as gas and solar, and changing their usage patterns, consumers will be largely insulating themselves from the effects of the increases and the threat of load shedding,” Xulu added.
Terence Nombembe has made a call to action for those with skills in the private sector to support the government.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Terence Nombembe, the former auditor-general and now chief executive of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), has made a call to action for those with skills in the private sector to support the government in achieving the goals set out by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in the Budget.
Speaking at a networking function of the National Press Club on Thursday, Nombembe said the public service did not have the necessary skills in many sectors, and support from the public sector had in the past been fragmented.
He described the Budget as a “tight and complicated balancing act” and issued a challenge to members of SAICA, and those in other professional bodies, to take up the challenge of making it a reality. This could be done in two ways: firstly, in supporting Sars in collection of tax revenue; and, secondly, to form public-private partnerships to help roll out the National Development Plan (NDP).
“There is a lot of conversation about tax-related budget proposals which are not easy to translate to reality,” Nombembe said, joking that three-quarters of the country “probably do not know where to start”. He said this was where his organisation’s members, who are tax consultants and take a lead in institutions, can assist with ensuring adherence to tax principles and compliance.
“The minister spoke of the need for public-private partnerships, and rolling out the NDP had been in place for few years but there are reasons why, in many instances, it is going at a slower pace than anticipated,” he said.
Nombembe said the NDP would remain a pipe dream if more qualified professionals did not swell the ranks of the public sector. He said SAICA was in talks with government leadership about producing more accountants and chartered accountants because at present they were mainly in the private sector.
In government, you could count the number of CAs on your fingers, he said.
Using the model of the Thuthuka Bursary fund, which now has 2 000 students a year and had been so successful in producing accountants in the private sector, was one way of building capacity in other sectors.
Giving praise to the Engineering Council for its work in skills development, he said if every sector played its role in developing skilled professionals, South Africa would realise the NDP goals to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.
“When I listened to the (finance) minister he cited a lot of things that need to be done but none of that is going to happen without skills being infused into the public sector. He spoke of back to basics in local government (but) there have been so many campaigns around local government. None have worked because the glue that will make things happen is skills,” said Nombembe.
Pretoria News Weekend]]>
India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a budget aimed at high growth.]]> |||
New Delhi - India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday announced a budget aimed at high growth, saying the pace of cutting the fiscal deficit would slow as he seeks to boost investment and ensure that ordinary people benefit.
Jaitley, delivering his first full-year budget since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's landslide election victory last May, said growth would accelerate to between 8 and 8.5 percent in the fiscal year starting in April. A pace of 7.4 percent is expected for the current year.
“India is about to take off,” Jaitley, 62, said early in his speech to lawmakers. “The world is predicting that this is India's chance to fly.”
He forecast inflation at 5 percent by the end of the fiscal year ending March 2016, undershooting the Reserve Bank of India's 6 percent target and creating room to cut interest rates. Annual inflation was 5.1 percent in January.
Jaitley said he would stand by the fiscal deficit target for the 2014/15 fiscal year, which ends March 31, of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product.
But he pushed back by a year, to 2017/18, a deadline for cutting the deficit to 3 percent of GDP. In 2015/16, the deficit will be 3.9 percent of GDP, above the 3.6 percent target inherited from the last government.
India's NSE share index was up 0.2 percent at 0625 GMT in a special Saturday trading session, paring earlier gains of as much as 1 percent after Jaitley's deficit announcement.
“The 3.9 percent number will be negative for the markets,” said Ananth Narayan, regional head of global markets at Standard Chartered in Mumbai.
India's budget concentrates a year's economic policymaking into a single speech, and the range of measures Jaitley announced included a monetary policy overhaul, a bankruptcy code and the creation of a public debt management agency.
Jaitley, who underwent surgery last year to treat his diabetes, sat down around 20 minutes into his speech and continued to deliver his address from the government's front bench.
Reaping the benefits of low global prices for oil, India's main import, Modi's nationalist government says it is in a sweet spot with spare cash to modernise roads and railways without busting fiscal deficit and inflation targets.
Jaitley announced an increase of 700 billion Indian rupees ($11.4 billion) in road and rail investments next year and announced that the government would commission five “ultra-mega” generation projects to end chronic power shortages.
The government would seek to boost the efficiency of a rural job creation scheme that is India's costliest welfare programme. It would also boost direct welfare payments into bank accounts, and gradually replace benefits in kind.
An overhaul of economic data has propelled India to the top of the league of fast-growing major economies, and the current account deficit is projected to fall below 1 percent next year, which would help stabilise the rupee and build up reserves.
But expectations for a further shift in expenditure from subsidies to infrastructure are sky high among investors who made India the best performing stock market in Asia after China last year on hopes Modi's government brings sweeping reforms to labour, tax and land laws.
“The settings are just right for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to shun gradualism and go for broke,” the Hindustan Times wrote in an editorial.
It was good and bad news for the property sector in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s Budget speech.]]> |||
It was good and bad news for the property sector in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s Budget speech this week.
Some real estate agents say the Budget presented is the best in many years - and will stimulate growth in the sector.
Others are concerned and say top-end areas such as Sandton will definitely be affected by raising transfer duty on property over R2.25 million.
Bond originator Ooba welcomed the increase in the exempt threshold for transfer duty from R600 000 to R750 000 and other favourable reductions in the calculations in transfer duty in the Budget.
Ooba finance manager Kay Geldenhuys said: “The cheaper cost of acquiring a property is good news for home buyers, particularly first-time buyers.”
Geldenhuys said this group made up 54 percent of buyers who seek finance through Ooba.
In its latest property market statistics, the January 2015 oobarometer, the company said the average property purchase price in the first-time buyer’s bracket was R775 815, therefore this segment would particularly benefit from the relaxation in transfer duty costs.
Bruce Swain, managing director of Leapfrog Property Group, advised potential buyers to take the increased fuel and electricity levies as well as the personal income tax hikes into account when purchasing property because this would affect their monthly budget and their ability to repay a mortgage in the long term.
He also warned the changes in transfer duty could have an adverse effect on buyers’ appetites in the R2.3m and up pricing brackets.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, who commented that while the reduction in transfer duty could provide some relief for aspirant home buyers in the lower end of the market.
“However, the increase in transfer duties on property transactions above R2.3 million is regretted, as this places a further burden on the already onerous list of costs involved in selling and buying property
“Transfer duty is a tax which increases in line with the purchase price of a property, with the overall effect of impacting on the market in general as it depresses selling prices and reduces liquidity in the housing market.
“While one may argue that those seeking to acquire a home with a price tag of R2.3m or more can afford it, the fact is that people who want to buy a house need to find a chunk of cash in addition to the deposit,” Golding said.
Berry Everitt, managing director of the Chas Everitt International group, said the budget presented this week is the best in many years, not only from the property market perspective, but in terms of the potential it has to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.
“By doing away with the transfer duty on pre-owned homes costing less than R750 000, the minister is obviously hoping to make things easier for first-time buyers and create a knock-on effect as existing owners are prompted to upgrade.”
Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in the country said the Budget would do much to improve consumer sentiment and confidence following the disturbing events during the State of the Nation address earlier this month.
“The minister has done an excellent job given that he had so little room to manoeuvre … He has found more money for housing, schools, hospitals and especially for the improvement and repair of the outdated and inadequate infrastructure in our rapidly growing cities,” said Geffen.
“This is all positive news for the property market, which is dependent on positive consumer sentiment.”
Seeff chairman Samuel Seeff said the group welcomed the elimination of transfer duty on all property acquired for less than R750 000, but the raising of transfer duty at the top end was of great concern.
“The higher transfer duty at the upper end is regrettable because we are in the midst of a two-year growth spurt despite the subdued economic conditions,” he said.
While there were pockets of excellence nationally, Seeff said, the market has only regained about 25 percent of its pre-2007-08 strength and “certainly does not need anything to upset the balance right now… (because) for the first time in years people are buying houses again with a whole economic value-chain of services benefiting.”
How the new transfer duty will affect you
R750 000 and below: no transfer duty.
R1 million: R7 500 (previously R12 000).
R1.5m: R30 000 (was R37 000).
R2m: R65 000 (previously R77 000).
Above the threshold where the duty was increased:
R2.3m: R90 500 (previously R101 000).
(At R2.8 million, the current cost is R141 000 and the new amount will be R145 500 - the increased rates only start showing later in the R2m range.)
R3m: R167 500 (previously R157 000).
Source: Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes for Pam Golding Properties
The price of petrol will increase by 96 cents and diesel by 74 cents.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The price of petrol, diesel, paraffin and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will increase next week, the energy department said on Friday.
The increase would come into effect on Wednesday.
Petrol would go up by 96 cents, diesel by 74 cents, paraffin by 73 cents and LPG by R1.54.
“The main reason for the fuel price increases is the average increase in the price of crude oil (by about 20 percent) during the period under review compared to the previous period,” the department said in a statement.
“The other reason is the depreciation of the rand against the US dollar.
The slate levy on petrol and diesel would however, remain unchanged at zero percent per litre.
The department said it believed the price of crude oil would stabilise around the current level and no major price shocks were expected in the near future.
German schools, hospitals and courts could be hit by token strikes lasting several hours in the next two weeks after a second round of wage talks failed.]]> |||
Berlin - German schools, hospitals and courts could be hit by token strikes lasting several hours in the next two weeks after a second round of talks on Friday between trade unions and state officials ended without agreement, union leaders said.
The trade unions are demanding a 5.5 percent pay rise for some three million civil servants. Frank Bsirske, the head of the powerful services trade union Verdi, said employers had made no counter offer and were seeking cuts in retirement benefits.
“We'll now ask our workers to take part in token strikes to send a clear signal backing our justified demands,” Bsirske said after the second round of negotiations in Potsdam, just south of Berlin, ended. The next round is set for March 16 and 17.
German unions have been emboldened this week by news that IG Metall, Germany's biggest trade union, won a thumping 3.4 percent pay increase plus a one-off payment of 150 euros for the 3.7 million engineering workers it represents.
Unions argue that the public sector has failed to keep pace with private sector wage rises. Employers have rejected their demand as lacking “any sense of reality”.
In general, German unions have been winning above-average pay hikes in the last few years after a decade of wage restraint and deals that failed even to keep pace with inflation - a trend that helped to improve Germany's competitiveness and to curb unemployment.
But the smaller pay rises also exacerbated strains in the euro zone and raised pressure on Germany to back higher deals to boost consumption in Europe's largest economy. Boosting wages and domestic demand in Germany are seen as ways to help tackle current account imbalances in the euro zone.
With political support, unions have been pushing for - and winning - pay increases that are well above the inflation rate. The IG Metall wage increase is more than three times above the inflation rate, which was 0.9 percent in 2014.
The higher pay raises have boosted consumption and gross domestic product in Germany. Private consumption was the main engine of Germany's strong growth at the end of 2014.
The DBB civil servants' union, the GEW teachers' union and the GdP police union said they would also stage token strikes in coming weeks to back their demands.
The TdL association of states representing the employers have rejected the pay rise demands, saying they would cost some 6.5 billion euros.
Construction work on Durban's proposed dig-out port is likely to start in 2021, after a number of improvements to the city's main port have taken place.]]> |||
Durban - Construction work on Durban's proposed dig-out port south of the city is likely to start in 2021, after a number of improvements to the city's main port have taken place.
This was revealed on Friday at a press conference by Mark Gregg-McDonald, Transnet's group executive of planning and sustainability.
The proposed port will occupy the site of the former Durban International Airport in Isipingo, about 20km south of the city centre.
Gregg-McDonald said that in 2014 the port handled about 2.7 million containers and this was expected to increase to 7.5 million containers in 2040.
Despite improving efficiency and expanding the current container terminal capacity, by 2025 the port's facilities would not cope.
Ten other sites had been looked at to expand container facilities, including Richards Bay and Ngqura in the Eastern Cape.
“We are at the point where we are narrowing down the designs,” he said, adding that funding for the project still had to be sourced.
South Africa's trade deficit was R24.2 billion in January, the SA Revenue Service said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - South Africa's trade deficit was R24.2 billion in January, the SA Revenue Service said on Friday.
The R24.2bn deficit for January 2015 was due to exports of R67bn and imports of R91.3bn,” Sars said in a statement.
“Exports decreased from December 2014 to January 2015 by R20.2bn (23.1 percent) and imports increased from December 2014 to January 2015 by R10.7bn (13.3 percent).”
The trade statistics include country trade data for Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland.
The cumulative deficit for 2015 was R24.2bn, compared to R16.5bn in 2014.
Precious metals and stones exports decreased by R5.2bn (35.4 percent).
Month-on-month, mineral products exports decreased R4.4bn (19.4 percent), vehicles and transport equipment decreased by R2.3bn (27.3 percent), and machinery and electronics R2bn (25 percent).
Mineral products imports improved by R1bn (6.2 percent), equipment components R1.8bn (44.7 percent), vehicles and transport equipment R1.2bn (14.8 percent), and machinery and electronics R2bn (10.2 percent).
South Africa recorded a R7.9 million surplus with Africa, having exported goods worth R20m and imported goods worth R12m.
Trade with America registered a deficit of R3.2m, while trade with Asia showed a deficit of R21m.
Trade with Europe saw a R10m deficit while trade with Oceania registered a R479m deficit.
Germany’s Parliament has approved an extension of Greece's bailout.]]> |||
Berlin - Germany's Parliament approved an extension of Greece's bailout on Friday after Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has voiced doubts about whether Athens can be trusted, promised it would not be allowed to “blackmail” its euro zone partners.
With 542 lawmakers voting in favour, including almost all of Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The Bundestag vote was the only major parliamentary hurdle for a four-month extension to the bailout programme for the most heavily-indebted country in the single currency zone.
The Japanese arm of the Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis has been ordered to suspend work for 15 days.]]> |||
Tokyo - Japan's Health Ministry on Friday ordered the Japanese arm of Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis AG to suspend work for 15 days for failing to report drug side effects.
The business suspension order will stop Tokyo-based Novartis Pharma KK from selling most of its drugs from March 5 to 19.
In December, Novartis Pharma admitted its failure to report a total of 3 264 cases of patient health problems possibly caused by the adverse effects of about two dozen company drugs.
Drugmakers are required to report serious side effects to the ministry within a maximum of 30 days after they are found.
The suspension order came after the company in July was accused of manipulating data in favour of its blood pressure drug Diovan.