SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 9 April 2020. Day 14 of the National Lockdown. Learners at Trevor Manual Primary school in Fisantekraal near Durbanville receive food parcels. The school provides 1500 meals a day, which is part of the Emergency School Feeding programme which started around the Western Cape on 8 April 2020. The Western Cape Provincial Treasury approved the allocation of R53 million additional funding for emergency food relief programmes which will run across the Western Cape. R18 million to the Department of Education to initiate a special school feeding programme from 8 April until 20 April, which will target the 485 000 existing school feeding scheme beneficiaries with one takeaway meal a day at approximately 1 000 schools. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).
SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 9 April 2020. Day 14 of the National Lockdown. Learners at Trevor Manual Primary school in Fisantekraal near Durbanville receive food parcels. The school provides 1500 meals a day, which is part of the Emergency School Feeding programme which started around the Western Cape on 8 April 2020. The Western Cape Provincial Treasury approved the allocation of R53 million additional funding for emergency food relief programmes which will run across the Western Cape. R18 million to the Department of Education to initiate a special school feeding programme from 8 April until 20 April, which will target the 485 000 existing school feeding scheme beneficiaries with one takeaway meal a day at approximately 1 000 schools. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA).

Virus could cost South Africa 5 years of potential output

By Roxanne Henderson and Prinesha Naidoo Time of article published May 28, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - South Africa stands to lose five years of potential economic output due to the shock from the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb its spread, according to the nation’s central bank.

South Africa fell into a recession even before the first case of the coronavirus was detected in the country. Economic growth-projections deteriorated after the government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world on March 27 that shuttered most business activity. Gross domestic product will contract 7% this year, according to the central bank.

While growth is forecast to recover to 3.8% next year and 2.9% in 2022, GDP will still be smaller than the levels recorded in 2018 and 2019, Alex Smith, the Pretoria-based Reserve Bank’s lead economist for the financial stability department, said in a presentation on Wednesday. “Hence, the Covid shock could result in nearly half a decade of lost output.”

This means the nation’s households and businesses will come under strain, with asset growth and profitability in the finance sector likely to be threatened, he said. While local banks offer smaller businesses government-backed loan relief and the nation prepares to further relax some lockdown restrictions from next month, many companies have already reported job cuts.

The central bank is ready to step in with a “variety of additional tools” available to address risks to financial stability in the country, which could worsen through the Covid-19 crisis, it said in its Financial Stability Review. It has already relaxed capital and liquidity rules for banks, cut interest rates to a record low and stepped up government bond purchases.

While South Africa banks are on average more resilient than their global counterparts, most are likely to report losses in the next year or two, Kuben Naidoo, Reserve Bank deputy governor and also head of the Prudential Authority, which regulates lenders, said on the same call.

“Our financial system is particularly well capitalized and the buffers are sufficiently large,” he said. “But let me also say South African banks are not immune to making losses, they are not immune to collapsing.”

Though credit losses among South Africa’s banks are expected to increase, these still compare well to peers such as Brazil, Thailand and Morocco, S&P Global Ratings’ Samira Mensah, a director and lead analyst for bank ratings in Africa, said in a webinar hosted by the agency.

“We expect credit losses to rise to about 1.2% in 2020, so that’s quite significantly higher than the 0.7% recorded last year,” she said. Total private credit sector to GDP will probably shrink to 80%, compared with 87% a few years ago.

BLOOMBERG 

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