Department to assess need for AgriBEE Fund

Parliament has instructed the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to re-evaluate the need for the AgriBEE Fund because for six years it has not used funds allocated to it to empower black farmers. Since it was established in 2006/07, the fund has capitalised only one deal. It received R35 million every year and on November 8 the fund had a balance of R231m. In that month, just over R228.5m of this was returned to the Treasury. The department’s director-general, Edith Vries, said the Treasury had not allocated any money to the fund for 2014/15. The fund is managed by the Land Bank and was “relaunched” in July 2012 after being suspended in 2008/09 because of fraudulent activities at the Land Bank. But its annual allocations continued. Last year, the department recommended only six projects for funding from the AgriBEE Fund after receiving 67 applications. But even these applications have remained unprocessed since July. Vries said one application was approved for funding the previous year. The Land Bank said yesterday that it received the application in August and the department was finalising legal compliance before a disbursement could be made. – Londiwe Buthelezi

Workers end strike at SA Post Office

An illegal strike that began on January 27 had been resolved and workers returned to work yesterday, the SA Post Office said. “The SA Post Office and representatives of the striking workers signed an agreement at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration,” said Post Office spokesman Johan Kruger. He said fewer than 100 workers in mail-sorting centres in Durban were still on strike. – Sapa

Fed ‘eases rules on foreign lenders’

The Federal Reserve plans to reduce the number of foreign banks that have to consolidate their US operations and hold more capital, according to three people with knowledge of the decision. The central bank would raise the threshold to $50 billion (R553bn) of assets in the US from $10bn proposed in 2012 for firms that must have local holding companies, they said. The change means about one-third of the two dozen companies originally affected would not have to comply with harsher capital standards. A final version of the new rules governing foreign lenders is scheduled to be approved by the Fed next week. – Bloomberg