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Wed, 17 May 2017
New acting Treasury head gives his take on economic transformation...

Cape Town – New acting National Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane gave his definition of radical economic transformation in answer to a question by the Democratic Alliance in Parliament on Tuesday. A delegation from National Treasury briefed Members of Parliament on the Appropriations Bill, which will be debated in the National Assembly shortly and provides for the appropriation of money by Parliament from the National Revenue Fund. During question time, the DA’s Alan Mcloughlin asked National Treasury to clarify the notion of radical economic transformation. “What is going to be so radically different from the past?”

‘This is radical economic transformation’

Mogajane responded that he was not deviating from anything Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had said earlier, but that it means measures such as improving education and skills development, strengthening competition laws, improving governance at state-owned enterprises and overcoming the fragmentation that was caused by apartheid spatial planning, to name but a few. He was echoing Gigaba’s earlier comments about government’s imperative to grow township businesses so that they can become part of the productive economy. “Maybe as a start we need to look at the individual wards of our townships and see what the scale of unemployment is and the type of interventions that are needed.”

Mogajane also said that inclusive growth is no different from radical economic transformation, and the 2017 budget will begin to address some of the challenges. National Treasury on Monday announced that Mogajane will be acting as its director general in the place of Lungisa Fuzile, who officially left his position at the close of business. Mogajane, also deputy director general responsible for the public finance division, started his career at National Treasury in 1999.

‘Mogajane’s appointment an excellent choice’

DA spokesperson for finance David Maynier said Mogajane’s appointment, although in an acting capacity, is an “excellent” one. “He has long experience at National Treasury and has the DA’s full support fighting the state capturers, looters and big spenders.” Gigaba, who was leading the delegation, said the fact that the richest 10% in South Africa own 95% of wealth in the country is an indictment that needs urgent attention if South Africa is to remain stable.

Gigaba repeated previous statements for the need for inclusive growth and radical economic transformation that will change ownership patterns in the South African economy, while at the same time maintaining fiscal prudence. “How will we achieve all of this while we maintain the fiscal framework? We need to be realistic,” Gigaba said, “and bite (off) what we can chew.” He said it’s therefore important to grow the revenue base and the fiscus so that government can do these things on a “gradual basis”.


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Wed, 17 May 2017
Grain SA to export maize surplus of 3.5 million tons

Grain SA expects a surplus of 3.5 million tons of maize and aims to export all of it to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. South Africa will likely harvest almost 15 million tons of maize in 2017, up 87% from last year’s drought-hit crop.

Grain SA chief executive Jannie de Villiers says the first export permits for Taiwan are expected to be issued this week. Government has expressed concern about the surplus being sold off, with the possibility of a return this year of the El Nino weather pattern.



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Fri, 05 May 2017
China seeks more African oil downstream operations

Chinese government officials have hinted that oil companies from the Asian country could purchase more African oil downstream operations, this follows China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation’s (Sinopec) purchase last month of a controlling stake in Chevron’s southern African subsidiary, Caltex.

Sinopec paid $900m for Chevron equity in the Chevron South Africa (CSA) refinery in Cape Town, oil storage facilities, a lubricants factory in Durban and the Caltex service station distribution network across South Africa and Botswana. It had been reported that other companies were interested in buying the assets, including oil trader Glencore and French oil giant Total but they dropped out of the bidding. The government’s Central Energy Fund also made an offer for Caltex last year.

Under the deal, Sinopec has bought 100% of Chevron Botswana and 75% of Chevron South Africa, while the remaining 25% will be held by South African black empowerment investors, as required under South African law, plus an employee trust. The refinery, which will be Sinopec’s first in Africa, has production capacity of 100,000 b/d, while Caltex owns and operates 820 service stations.

In a statement, Sinopec revealed: “The SPA has already been filed with the Chinese government and remains subject to regulatory approvals in South Africa and Botswana. With a growing middle class, demand for refined petroleum in South Africa, the largest country in the region, has been increasing at an average annual rate of nearly 5% during the last five years, currently reaching a total of approximately 27m tonnes.” Aside from the fuel sales, the company will benefit from 220 retail outlets attached to service stations.

Refining challenges

Sinopec said that it intends to maintain the company’s existing operations and workforce, while upgrading its assets across the region. It then plans to start rebranding the retail network in five or six years’ time. This upgrade will presumably involve the modernisation and expansion of the Cape Town refinery. Cleaner fuel standards are being introduced in South Africa, which will require improvements in the nation’s refining capacity.

The new standards were supposed to have been introduced this July but the refining industry and government have been in dispute over how the refinery upgrades should be funded. This dispute may have precipitated Chevron’s withdrawal from the country; the US firm put the business up for sale in 2014. South Africa has five other refineries with combined production capacity of 600,000 b/d, including the two synthetic fuel plants at Mossel Bay and Secunda, which used natural gas and coal as feedstock respectively.

In 2012, Sinopec had signed an agreement with South African national oil company PetroSA to help develop a new refinery at Coega with production capacity of 360,000 b/d but the project has been postponed because of rising costs and economic problems in South Africa.

A spokesperson said: “With this investment, Sinopec looks forward to becoming an integral part of South Africa and Botswana’s local economies.” He added that the company would seek to contribute to “the development of the indigenous oil industry”, which could suggest that it is also interested in [...]

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