President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Public Administration Management Act which bans civil servants doing business with the state.]]> |||
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has signed into law the Public Administration Management Act, which bans civil servants doing business with the state, the presidency said on Friday.
Among other things, the act sought to promote a high standard of professional ethics in the public administration.
“As part of promoting professional ethics and integrity by employees, the act prohibits public servants from conducting business with the state or being a director of a public or private company that conducts (business) with the state.”
Failure to comply with this prohibition constituted serious misconduct which could result in the termination of employment.
The act required employees to disclose their financial interests. Failure to do so constituted misconduct.
This act would take effect on a date still to be determined by the president. - Sapa]]>
British American Tobacco has agreed to pay $575 million to settle litigation with the Flintkote Company.]]> |||
London - British American Tobacco , the world's No. 2 tobacco company by sales, said it agreed to pay $575 million to settle litigation with the Flintkote Company related to disputed dividends and asbestos claims.
The agreement was reached by BAT's Canadian subsidiary Imperial Tobacco Canada in a litigation case which started in 2006 and related to issues dating back to 1986 and 1987.
“Today's agreement in principle of the dividend claims and the asbestos related liabilities, brings this long running litigation to an end,” BAT said in a statement on Friday.
“Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Imperial Tobacco will obtain protection from current and potential future Flintkote related asbestos liability claims in the United States.”
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is studying a Labour Court decision on a metal industry labour agreement, her spokesman said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is studying a Labour Court decision on a metal industry labour agreement, her spokesman said on Friday.
“She will study the judgment and respond appropriately in due course,” Mokgadi Pela said in a statement.
On Thursday, the Labour Court in Johannesburg set aside the 2011-2014 metal sector wage agreement, following Neasa's filing of an urgent notice to appeal the agreement's extension until 2017.
The National Employers' Association of SA (Neasa) contended the agreement was illegal and displayed “administrative incompetence”.
The 2011-2014 wage deal was the result of an agreement between the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa) and trade unions.
The labour minister then extended that agreement to employers, like Neasa, not party to the agreement.
Neasa lost a court application on December 1, which formed part of its bid to stop the extension of a wage agreement to other unions.
In terms of the three-year agreement workers would get increases of between eight and 10 percent in the first year, 7.5 to 10
percent in the second year, and seven to 10 percent in the third year.
Neasa members want a standardised entry-level wage and a revamped exemptions policy. It offered an eight percent across-the-board salary.
On Friday, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Neasa blamed each other for trouble in the sector.
Neasa said in a statement that the Numsa/Seifsa alliance had led to the decline of the metal industry.
Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said Neasa had to take responsibility for the collapse of industrial relations. - Sapa]]>
Germany has denied that European Union sanctions are aimed at crippling the Russian economy.]]> |||
Berlin - Germany denied Friday that European Union sanctions are aimed at crippling the Russian economy and said a tightening of the screws this week as Russia's crisis worsens is a coincidence, and not by design.
It also denied that the collapse of a mega-billion German-Russian gas deal was the result of any political interference from Berlin.
“The idea behind what we are doing on Ukraine and political pressure is not to lay low the Russian economy,” said Sawsan Chebli, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “It's about inducing a change in behaviour.”
She said EU sanctions announced Thursday in Brussels by foreign ministers had been signed off long in advance among lower-level officials and were not new sanctions “in the classical sense,” but a technical move “to close loopholes” in existing EU sanctions.
“It came out at the time of news of the plunge in the rouble. It happened all at once, as a matter of timing, but (the tightening) was not in reaction,” she said.
On Thursday, the world's biggest chemicals company, BASF, announced cancellation of a swap of assets with Russia's gas monopoly. Gazprom was to have acquired big chunks of the German gaspipe network while BASF would have won stakes in Siberian gas fields in the new year.
Instead, the German company's oil unit Wintershall will retain a blocking 50-per-cent stake in German assets that Gazprom half-owns.
“This was a decision at enterprise level. There was no exerting of political influence from the German side on the deal,” German Economy Ministry spokeswoman Julia Modes told reporters in Berlin.
There has been public opposition in Germany to the deal, with critics saying it was a strategic blunder to hand over key domestic assets at a time when Germany is worried by Russia's assertive policies.
Nigeria's central bank has announced new measures to curb currency speculation as part of an effort to defend the naira.]]> |||
Lagos - Nigeria's central bank on Friday announced new measures to curb currency speculation as part of an effort to defend the naira which has been hit hard by the collapse in global oil prices.
Customers who purchase foreign currency through the interbank market or an authorised trader must use the funds within 48-hours, said a statement issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Failing (this), such funds must be returned to the CBN for re-purchase at the Bank's buying rate,” it said, warning that sanctions would be imposed on those who fail to comply.
The measure targets speculators who seek profit by buying up foreign currency in hopes that the naira will continue to fall.
Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, depends on crude exports for 70 percent of government revenue and some 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings.
The government has said that plummeting crude prices have put huge strain on revenue and have announced a series of measures to respond to the crisis.
Last month the CBN devalued the naira by eight percent, conceding that defending the currency had put unsustainable strain on dwindling government revenue.
The CBN had devalued its currency late November to a new target rate of 168 naira to the dollar. But the currency's street value was much weaker than that, with a dollar fetching more than 180 nairas.
President Goodluck Jonathan warned om Tuesday that Nigeria could be forced to cut further the amount of oil revenue it uses for government spending if the global crude price continued to plummet.
Abuja sets a so-called benchmark oil price, which has been slashed to $65 from $78 earlier this year. Revenue from oil exports up to that price go into general government spending.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery was trading at $54.84 on Friday, while deals for Brent crude for February were done at $59.59.
The low oil price should be good for SA - but market volatility is negatively affecting the rand, an economist says.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The low oil price should be a positive for the rand and South Africa, but in the short-term was creating substantial global financial market volatility and negatively affecting the rand, an economist said on Friday.
Rand Merchant Bank currency economist John Cairns said the oil price drop was due to demand being weaker than expected this year, combined with higher than expected supply.
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) cartel was also unwilling to cut production.
This had consequences for the Russian rouble, which had lost around half of its value against the US dollar this year.
“On Tuesday, the rouble came under pressure, trading at a low of 58 to a high of 80 against the US dollar. That range would be equal of the rand trading from about R11 to R15 to the dollar,” said Cairns.
“Even then, when things have settled down, it's still trading at what would be equivalent of changes of around R1 a day to the US dollar. It's immense volatility.”
The rouble's fall, precipitated by the political tension in the Ukraine and resulting sanctions, negatively affected the rand.
“There is very little direct connection, but again what's happened in the fall-out in the rouble has created substantial global market volatility, which has impacted negatively on the rand,” Cairns said.
“It has also raised questions in the sustainability of the emerging market trade. We are seeing large capital being withdrawn from the emerging market trade.”
An underlying worry in financial markets was when the US Federal Reserve (Fed) would start tightening monetary policy.
“The statement from the Fed on Wednesday evening, following a meeting, was less hawkish than expected, which provided some relief to the rand and other emerging markets,” Cairns said.
He believed the market was concerned the rand could weaken further next year.
“Fundamentally, we believe the rand has been oversold and should start appreciating.
“Fair value would be around R10 to the US dollar, but it's important to raise that South Africa needs an undervalued currency at the moment, due to our large current account deficit.” - Sapa]]>
Tanzania’s GDP has expanded by 32 percent after it rebased its calculation to incorporate new sectors in the economy.]]> |||
Dar es Salaam - Tanzania said its gross domestic product has expanded by 32 percent after it rebased its calculation to incorporate new sectors in the economy, officials said on Friday.
The state-run National Bureau of Statistics said the east African country's GDP stood at 69.8 trillion Tanzanian shillings ($41.33 billion) in 2013 after the rebasing, up from a previous estimate of 53 trillion shillings.
The base year for GDP calculations was changed to 2007 from 2001.
“The rebasing of the GDP takes into account new transformations in the economy, such as the ongoing mobile phone revolution in the country,” Finance Minister Saada Mkuya told a news conference.
Farming remains Tanzania's economic mainstay, while tourism, mining, communications and financial services are the other key sectors. Tanzania has made big natural gas discoveries, with revenues expected to give a boost to the economy by 2020.
Kenya, East Africa's biggest economy, revised up its GDP by 25 percent to $53.4 billion in 2013 after rebasing, from $42.6 billion previously.
The European Union and the US should do everything possible to finish negotiating their free trade deal, EU leaders say.]]> |||
Brussels - The European Union and the United States should do everything possible to finish negotiating their landmark free trade deal within the next year, EU leaders said Thursday.
The two sides have held seven negotiating rounds on the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) since July 2013, but progress has been slower than expected.
“The EU and the US should make all efforts to conclude negotiations on an ambitious, comprehensive and mutually beneficial TTIP by the end of 2015,” EU leaders said in a joint statement issued at a summit of the bloc in Brussels.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said trade deals were needed “to open up markets for our exporters and businesses.” He held a separate meeting with business leaders and other European prime ministers to discuss the trade deal, which would “bring more growth and jobs,” he tweeted.
Critics, who have complained about a lack of transparency, worry that TTIP will water down consumer protection provisions and allow corporations to block unfavourable regulation.
The Europe-based Stop TTIP initiative announced this month that it had collected more than 1 million signatures against the agreement.
EU and US negotiators have nevertheless committed to a “fresh start” in the talks after a change of leadership in Brussels. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for the week of February 2 in the Belgian capital.
Hong Kong stocks climbed 1.25 percent Friday after another strong rally on Wall Street.]]> |||
Hong Kong stocks climbed 1.25 percent Friday, ending the week with a flourish after another strong rally on Wall Street, while Shanghai ended at a new four-year high.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index added 284.42 points to 23,116.63 on turnover of HK$95.71 billion (US$12.35 billion).
The index started the week on a downer as tumbling oil prices and Russia's economic woes fanned worries about the global outlook.
However, dealers around the world got a shot in the arm after the Federal Reserve Wednesday indicated interest rates would be hiked no sooner than mid-2015.
On Wall Street the Dow surged 2.43 percent, the S&P 500 shot up 2.40 percent - the first time since 2002 the index has risen more than two percent on successive days - and the Nasdaq gained 2.24 percent.
In Hong Kong Sun Hung Kai Properties was up 1.43 percent at HK$113.3 when suspended just before a jury found co-chairman Thomas Kwok guilty of corruption in the city. His brother and co-chairman Raymond was found not guilty.
While one brother possibly being jailed will hurt the firm, imprisonment for both could have hammered it as some funds would be forced to sell holdings, Bank of Communications' property analyst Alfred Lau told Dow Jones Newswires.
China-based car maker BYD surged 14.17 percent to HK$28.60, clawing back some of the 30 percent losses seen Thursday that came amid speculation over its business outlook.
The gains came after the firm denied several rumours, including that US investment icon Warren Buffett was about to sell part of his stake in it and that it had made big losses in its Russia business.
Energy firm CNOOC added 0.20 percent to HK$10.12, Tencent jumped 3.40 percent to HK$115.70 and HSBC rose 1.73 percent to HK$73.40.
In mainland China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.67 percent, or 51.08 points, to 3,108.60 - its highest since November 2010 - on turnover of 515.6 billion yuan ($84.2 billion). The index rose 5.80 percent over the week.
But the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, fell 1.26 percent, or 18.67 points, to 1,465.59 on turnover of 269.7 billion yuan. It slipped 0.96 percent for the week.
China shares have surged in recent weeks with investors not wanting to miss a rally as speculation mounts that Beijing will introduce measures to boost the economy.
“Investors went on rotational chasing of low-valuation blue-chip stocks on expectations that the market will continue to rise,” Shenyin & Wanguo Securities analyst Qian Qimin told AFP.
“The oil price drop also gave a boost to heavyweight shares like transportation firms.”
In Shanghai COSCO Shipping soared by its 10 percent limit to 8.00 yuan while China Shipping Development also shot up 10 percent to 10.35 yuan.
Construction companies extended further gains on hopes of more infrastructure projects. On the Shanghai market, China Railway Construction surged by its 10 percent limit to 13.04 yuan while China Railway Erju Co. also jumped 10 percent to 14.49 yuan. - AFP]]>
Electronics entrepreneur William Wu has bought a majority stake in Swartland Winery near Cape Town.]]> |||
Johannesburg - Electronics entrepreneur William Wu has become the latest Chinese investor to invest in South Africa’s wine industry after buying a majority stake in Swartland Winery near Cape Town.
Wu, who came to South Africa in the early 1980s, bought a 51 percent stake in Swartland, a 66-year-old vineyard in Malmesbury that’s known for its merlot and pinotage red wines, according to an e-mailed statement. He will become the vineyard’s chairman.
“The market is in China where I have a ready demand for the quality and volume of wine Swartland produces,” Wu said in the statement, which didn’t disclose the price paid.
Chinese investors are showing growing interest in South Africa’s wine industry, now the world’s ninth-largest producer, to meet the demands of its expanding middle class.
Swartland Winery processes 25,000 metric tons of mostly red grapes a year. Wu also has a stake in Veenwouden winery in Paarl, also near Cape Town.
The winery “has access to good, well-farmed grapes and is one of the few South African wineries of this size where the majority of grapes planted are red varieties - in which the Chinese market is most interested,” he said.