Will Schools Reopen in May? Here is the Plan

There is a new plan that is proposing that matrics and students in grade 7 and 12 go back to school on May 6th. TimesLIVE saw a document, which is based on the extended lockdown being lifted at the end of the month. The document was written by a committee which comprised of heads of the provincial education departments. The paper said that the proposals are contained in the department of basic educations draft for the recovery plan after Covid-19 lockdown. 

It’s reported that the document states that the remaining grades will be phased in as an attempt to salvage the academic year. 

In the document the proposed dates are:

  • Grades 7 and 12 – May 6th
  • Grades 6b and 11 – May 20th
  • Grades 5 and 10 – June 3rd
  • Grades 4 and 9 – June 17th
  • Grades 3 and 8 – July 1st
  • And grade R – July 15th

Due to the high risk involved with large gatherings, the phased in approach is being considered by the DBE. Critical grades will start and other learners will remain at home and will begin in stages. 

Social Distancing will be a Challenge

It will be a challenge to maintain social distancing among pupils said Chris Klopper, Chief executive of the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie. He went on to say that it is possible to save the year for grade 12 because so far only 24 school days have been lost. You will win three weeks if the June/July exams are cancelled and it is possible to find another week somewhere else. There then shouldn’t be a big problem for grade 12. 

There Will Be Change

Recently reported by The Sunday Times is that the Department of Basic Education is looking at several options to try and salvage the South African school year. This could include earlier starts, evening and weekend classes, scrapping the June and September holidays and scrapping non-essential parts of curriculums in certain subjects.

Angie Motshekga, education minister is due to make the final proposal this week in a special cabinet meeting. 

A committee is also looking at if the June exams for grades 1 to 12 should go ahead or be postponed. 

What’s Happening with the School Calendar?

With the lockdown extended until the end of April, the government has had to look at other options to save the school year. 

One such measure is that SABC is now broadcasting school lessons. These began on the 9thApril and are broadcasted across three SABC channels and 13 radio stations and includes online support.  The lessons focus on learners grade 10 to 12 as well as Early Childhood Education. Subjects covered include Physical Sciences, Maths, English First Additional Language, Accounting and Life Sciences. The early childhood development package also includes a variety of African languages. 

The Plan for Higher Education

On Tuesday, 21stApril, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education will hold a virtual meeting to determine the impact that the lockdown has had on the higher education sector. 

Dr Blade Nzimande, minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology will present plans in the briefing from the department, universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training colleges to rescue the academic year. 

Issues that are thought to be covered in the plan are:

  1. Online teaching and learning and what will happen to the mid-term examinations
  2. Plans to rescue the academic year for universities and TVET colleges. 
  3. The impact that the lockdown has had on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme for qualifying students
  4. The accommodation of students at university residences. 

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/390617/a-plan-to-reopen-schools-in-may-report/

The Rand Starts Off the Week Weaker

As fears grow over the economic growth, the appetite for riskier assets has submerged. The rand opened weaker on Monday morning reflecting that of what was happening to other emerging markets. 

Early on Monday, the rand was trading at 18.91 to the US dollar which is about 0.6% weaker than when it closed on Friday. 

The rand fell by more than 4% to the dollar last week, which was due to the interest rate cut, which came as a surprise as well as the predictions that the economy would suffer a major contraction due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet is expected to discuss the new measures to contain the economic impact of Covid-19, which will include if the ailing SAA should be closed, which has had a major drain on state resources. 

Before the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the country, the public finances of South Africa, were already in a bad state, which constrained its ability to provide stimulus. 

At the time of writing, 3158 coronavirus cases were recorded and as of Sunday, there have been 54 deaths. 

In early trade, it was mixed for South African government bonds. The yield dropped to 10.29% down by 6 basis points for the 2030 instrument after rising earlier. 

Article Source: https://af.reuters.com/article/southAfricaMarketNews/idAFL8N2C811A

Perfect Storm Ahead for South African Home Buyers Due to the Coronavirus

Many analysts expect that the economy will be weighed down by the post-lockdown recession, but it may prove to be a boon for the property market according to Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group. 

He believes that there will be a pent-up demand in the primary residential market when the emergence phase begins. He went on to say that he expects there to be a perfect storm for homebuyers once we emerge from the lockdown with buyers eagerly waiting to take advantage of the market conditions, especially in the R1.5 million range and even up to R3 million in some areas. 

The purchasing conditions right now are highly favourable. 

Across the board, transfer duty is down and as banks continue to compete there will be a favourable lending climate ahead. 

In March, the interest rate was cut by 1%, which means that buyers could save between R650 and R1300 per month on home loans of between R1 million and R2 million. This with the flat price growth means that buyers might be able to get into a property or suburb that they may not have been able to afford a year ago. 

Stock is up and after a long wait, sellers will be keen to sell, which means that buyers will be able to negotiate further discounts. 

Seeff has said that they have already done virtual deals at some branches with a price agreed, but the offers are subject to a physical viewing. As soon as the lockdown lifts, agents will be able to move on these potential deals. 

On top of this, there should be a encouraging boost for foreign buyers as the rand depreciated, which means these buyers will get more value. 

However, Seeff said that there probably won’t be a flood of buyers.

Covid-19 has caused an economic fall out, which means that the demand for second homes internationally may mean that there isn’t an uptake in sales above R20 million or any foreign sales in the near future. 

The property market overall, will show both the challenges and the broader macro-economic trends in the country, but in the end, people will need somewhere to live. Those that want to buy will and will have plenty of motivation to do so. 

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/property/388567/the-coronavirus-has-created-the-perfect-storm-for-south-africas-housing-market/

The Sale of Alcohol, Cigarettes and Fast Food During the Lockdown will be up for Discussion this Week

There is a plan underway by the government to breathe life back into South Africa’s economy and to avoid any more job losses following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

This follows the extension of the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus. 

There will be a discussion by the national command council to alleviate some of the restrictions placed during lockdown according to The Sunday Times. These discussions will include lobbies made by the alcohol and tobacco sectors as well as hearing the call to reopen fast food shops.

It is expected that the results of these discussions will be taken to cabinet later this week where several proposals will be tabled including a comprehensive financial package that is looking at how to scale up the essential goods production.  

The Call to Sell Beer

The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) who represents South African Breweries has called for the reopening of off consumption beer trade. 

This means that a licence is granted for the sale of alcohol for consumption off of the premises where it is sold. Such premises include distribution centres, liquor stores and wholesale entities.

If the restrictions continue, then there could be major job losses for the industry warned BASA. 

Over the last 15 days, there has been news of many beer outlets shutting doors with several people being retrenched. The industry employs almost 250 000 people, who are now at risk. 

The shutdown also affects secondary industries like glass and bottle companies, retailers, transportation, print and design companies, equipment manufactures and so on. 

There has been several submissions made by the association along with other liquor associations to the president as well as ministers with proposals as to how to keep the industry surviving. 

This includes off-consumption outlets to be able to sell beer, which will be under the requirements of social distancing and for trade hours to be restricted. As well as allowing on consumption outlets to be able to trade as off consumption outlets through the use of a special dispensation, who will also need to adhere to social distancing requirements and with restricted trading hours, which will also include the licenced taverns to support the township economy. 

To put into place restrictions on volumes sold per consumer, placing hand sanitizers at outlets, allowing for the delivery of beer online with quantity controls in place and restricted hours of trade. 

Call to Reopen Some Business Sectors

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has called for the reopening of certain business sectors. 

The business body has a membership of about 20 000 small, medium and large enterprises, who commended the president on his leadership and management of the current crisis. 

However, Sacci has suggested a staggered return to business beginning with businesses that can display a high level of health control and social distancing, for instance, the Fast Food Outlets (FFOs) industry. 

More than 150 000 people are employed by FFOs in South Africa. Alan Mukoki, Sacci chief executive officer said that many businesses will likely close down and as a result, there will be major job losses. He went on to say that to protect the SA economy from a total collapse we need to look beyond the lockdown as the only option. 

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/government/389051/ramaphosa-to-discuss-the-sale-of-cigarettes-alcohol-and-fast-food-during-lockdown-report/

As the Number of SA Covid-19 Cases Rise, the Rand Sell-Off Continues

During the early trade on Monday, the rand sell-off continued, as it further weakened from the initial lows on Friday. 

The sell-off is mainly due to the pandemic of Covid-19 as well as that in a week two rating agencies have downgraded the country according to Bianca Botes, the executive director at Peregrine Treasury Solutions. 

After Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating, the local unit on Friday surrendered 3% to the dollar, which caused it to an all time worst level and went above R19.

The downgrade for South Africa’s long term foreign currency debt went from BB+ to BB with a negative outlook. The reason being that there isn’t a well-defined path concerning government debt stabilisation as well as noting the impact that Covid-19 is having on growth. 

The South African Reserve Bank has said that it will be buying debt in the secondary market to boost liquidity. The central bank is now carrying the burden as the government lacks the fiscal space and resources to provide stimulus. However, even with these efforts, the central banks on there own will not be able to stimulate the regional economy out of a coronavirus crisis according to Bloomberg. 

It was noted that it could take up to three years for African economies to recover from the slowdown and the continent will need emergency stimulus of $100 billion including debt servicing waivers. 

Charlie Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s global chief economist has said that the governments probably feel they aren’t able to afford a larger fiscal response unless they are given the support they need from the G7. He went on to say that the virus is a global threat, so there are good, selfish reasons for the West to support African efforts to fund the suppression of the virus. 

According to Bloomberg Economics new global GDP tracker, the global economy is already contracting and is losing steam quicker than in the start of the financial crisis. 

The March tracker reading shows that the global economy contracted at an annualised rate of 0.5%, which is down from 0.1% in February and is down from the start of the year by 4.2%.

However, the March reading is probably not the worst of the downturn as lockdowns over March are set to stay in place in April. 

The rand at the start of Monday was trading dollar/rand at R19.28, pound/rand at R23.57 and euro/rand at R20.85.

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/387647/rand-sell-off-continues-as-sa-covid-19-numbers-rise/

In Case You Missed It – South Africa Delves Deeper into Junk by Fitch Downgrade

On Friday, the rand broke through R19 to the dollar and ended the week in a weaker position. 

On the 27thMarch, Moody’s downgraded the economy as the country entered into a 3-week lockdown. In the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, global markets have plummeted. South Africa has been tarnished by consistently weak economic growth, policy uncertainty, high levels of unemployment and ongoing power outages that have been a constant economic drain over the last few years. 

Many economists and analysts say that Moody’s downgrade was long overdue, but it does mean that South Africa will be forced out of the Government Bond Index, which could lead foreign investment of R88 billion being erased from the economy. 

After the downgrade by Moody’s, Fitch who downgraded South Africa to junk in 2017 took the country down one level on Friday, 3rdApril. Fitch adjusted its assessment of the country from BB+ to BB with a negative outlook. 

Among the reasons for the further downgrade, Fitch noted the lack of clarity towards government debt stabilisation plus the impact of the coronavirus on public finances and growth.

South Africa’s finance ministry recognised the downgrade and said that to address the weak economic growth, structural reforms would be implemented. 

In a statement by Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, he said that the government holds the task of addressing and minimising the impact of Covid-19, setting government finances on a sustainable trajectory and to implement measures to improve economic growth. 

Due to the 21-day lockdown, Fitch expects the South African economy to contract by 3.8% in 2020. 

Article Source: https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/387517/rand-ends-first-week-of-lockdown-over-r19-to-the-dollar-after-fitch-pushes-south-africa-deeper-into-junk/

When Should You Increase Your Life Cover? Here are Four Signs

With life insurance, you will not only need to determine how much is the right cover but also when it is time to increase the amount. The main reason you will need to you increase your amount of life cover is because your circumstances have changed. When this happens you will need to review your life insurance policy and make the necessary adjustments. 

Here are 4 signs you should increase your life insurance cover, to make sure that your loved ones will be provided for in the event of death. 

Your Family Has Grown

One of the main times you will need to increase your life insurance is when you have a child. With a new child comes a new sense of responsibility, new expenses and even new worries. You will need to think about the long-term future of your new addition and make sure that you will be able to provide for your child financially until they are an adult if you were to pass away prematurely. This means you will need to increase your life insurance policy and ensure your policy is adequate enough to provide for your child. 

You Have Received a Significant Increase

If your salary has had a significant increase due to a promotion or getting a new job then it might be time to increase your life insurance, especially if you haven’t evaluated your policy since you started your career. 

Life insurance is there to replace your income if you should die. With a significant increase in salary usually comes a higher living cost due to you changing your lifestyle. You then need to increase your life insurance cover so that your family can continue with their new lifestyle that they have been accustomed to.

Don’t Cut Life Insurance Because of Debt

When you are struggling with debt, you will usually need to cut costs so you can save money and pay more towards debt, but the one expense that you shouldn’t cut is life insurance and in fact, you should increase your amount of cover. If you cut your life insurance policy at this time and something happens then your family will be left with your debt burden, but if you increase the amount of coverage and something happens to you, then your family will have enough to cover all your outstanding debts. 

You Just Got Married

When you get married, you will have someone else in your life that can share the financial load and someone new to consider in terms of finances. If your spouse earns less than you or has stopped working, then they will rely on you financially. This means that you may need to increase the amount of life cover you have to ensure that your spouse can carry on living the same life if you were no longer around. 

When you are no longer here, it’s life insurance that will care for your family financially. You should review your policy every couple of years or when your circumstances change to make sure that you have adequate protection in place for your family.