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German Investors Bet on Positives in SA




Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address (SONA) and the ensuing debate on it in parliament, show the great emphasis the South African government places on attracting investors and avoiding further downgrades by ratings agencies, Walter Lindner, German ambassador in SA, told Fin24 on Friday.

In his view, this focus by the SA government shows the realisation that economic matters touch all lives.

“The emphasis of the SA government on the economic topic is important for us. Of course there is a lot of talk about what is working well in the country and what not. This is fair, because only when governments improve can it lead to greater and greater benefits from implementing that which works,” said Lindner.

While the European Union as a whole is SA’s biggest trading partner, Germany as a single nation is South Africa’s second largest trading partner after China. In 2015 bilateral trade between SA and Germany was €15bn.

Accordingly, German investors account for one of the biggest investment groups in SA. Apart from investments in the motor vehicle industry, they are also active in, among others, the chemistry and renewable energy sectors.

There are about 600 German companies in SA, providing a total of about 100 000 jobs. These companies include global players like Siemens, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and BMW. There are also many family-owned small- and medium-size enterprises invested in SA over many decades. Lindner emphasised that these companies would not be in SA if they did not see opportunities here.

“Investors come and do their own checks and won’t come to a country just because a government tells them to,” Lindner said.

He said many of these businesses are planning substantial increases in their investments in the country. Although there will always be some things that could be improved, this shows how important it is to see the positive aspects of SA, Lindner said.

Investors usually want security, easy economic conditions for doing business, infrastructure, a stable working environment, a good legal framework and certainty on what they can expect.

In this environment labour unions also have a necessary role to play, in his view.

“A secret to success in Germany is that reason prevails between labour unions and employers. If employees ask for too much, the company will end up having to close. Therefore, one needs a respectable balance between labour and employers,” explained Lindner.

“Such a balanced view should take into consideration that strikes could lead to a company losing market share to a competitor. One must be aware that you could maybe get more money for a certain time, but then there might not be a company left after a while.”

To Lindner the German model of having workers represent at least a third of decision makers on company boards is a good one, because it brings a sense of ownership in the decision making process.

“Of course there will always be conflicting interests between labour and employers, but the German approach is just a model to show even in the labour sector you need to respect your partners,” he said.

As for the view that SA can be seen as the gateway to the rest of Africa, Lindner said this point is still valid as SA is the only industrialised hub in Africa. At the same time no country can afford to rest on its laurels and allow its competition to gain the upper hand.

“Governments must ensure a country remains in a good position and perform well,” said Lindner.

“South Africa is a unique country with a sad apartheid history. Of course this had to be corrected. Germany is supportive of an inclusive economy and supports black economic empowerment. Yes, there have been injustices of the past, but it is still important for both sides to profit.”

For the future of SA one must invest in training people and he is proud of what some German companies have managed to do in terms of their BEE score cards – especially regarding education and skills programmes.

“In a world where commodity prices are down, I think if it also important for SA to look at attracting investors in areas like manufacturing and tourism. Investors are important for growth and the creation of jobs,” said Lindner.

“Yes, there are challenges in SA, but there are also positive things, otherwise there would not be 600 German companies active in the country. We are here to help overcome them.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


FG Establishes New Crime Agency, Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency



President Muhammadu Buhari

Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Established by Government

The Federal Government has approved the creation of a new crime agency called “The Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency” to better manage the loots recovered from financial criminals by the growing list of anti-graft agencies established by the government.

The new agency was approved on Wednesday at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The president said the new agency seeks to move the fight against corruption to the next level as there is no agency of government that “can give you off-head the number of landed assets, number of immovable assets, the amount in cash that are recovered by the federal government by way of interim forfeiture overweigh of a final forfeigture.”

“So, it is indeed overtime a kind of arrangement that is not uniform and consistent.”

He added: “Next level of transparency, next level of accountability in essence, will have in place an agency of government that is exclusively responsible for anything proceeds of crime.

“A one-stop shop arrangement by which all the assests that are recovered arising from crimes that are indeed vested in the federal government, you have a one-stop arrangenet where you can have an information. As it is for example, the Federal Ministry of Justice is only in a position to account and giving comprehensive account of what
recoveries were made by the ministry.

“But any recovery made by the police, DSS, the Ministry of Justice is not in a position to know. So, for the purpose of decision making and policy, the federal government is not in a position to have a wholistic appreciation.

“So, by the bill that is now presented for the consideration of the council, we’ll have a law that establishes an agency, and secondly, an agency.

“And as you rightly know, Mr President has sanctioned ever since he came on board, that there should be a budget line, a budget item for recovered assets.

“So, if you have a budget item for recovered assets, this agency will now be in a position to provide information to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on demand as to what amount is available for budget purposes, thereby establishing the desired transparency, the desired accountability which has not been available before now.

“So, it is about a memo that seeks to establish a legal framework, that seeks to establish institutional framework, that seeks to further take the fight against corruption to the next level by way of establishing transparency, accountability and making the possibility of forfeiture a proceeds of crime easy through the sanctioning of non-conviction based forfeiture among others.”

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Inflation Rate Increases Further in August to 13.22%




Prices of Goods and Services Jump in Nigeria in August

Nigeria’s inflation rate rose further in the month of August to the highest since April 2018, according to the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In the report released on Tuesday, the NBS said Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation rate, increase by 13.22 percent in the month under review.

This represents a 0.40 percent points increase from the 12.82 percent posted for the month of July.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices increased by 0.09 percent points from 1.25 per cent achieved in July to 1.34 percent in August 2020.

The report read in part, “The consumer price index, which measures inflation increased by 13.22 percent (year-on-year) in August 2020. This is 0.40 percent points higher than the rate recorded in July 2020 (12.82 percent).

“On a month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.34 percent in August 2020. This is 0.09 per cent higher than the rate recorded in July 2020 (1.25 per cent).”

Rising costs continue to disrupt consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy, especially after President Muhammadu Buhari removed subsidy, up VAT from 5 percent to 7.5 percent and implemented service reflective electricity tariff during a tough period of global pandemic.

Despite majority of Nigerians saying the time is wrong, experts have said it was the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that compelled the administration to up revenue generation in order to continue to service its debt and embark on necessary capital projects.

With the $3.4 billion loan secured from the IMF in May running out amid falling oil price and weak demand for the commodity, the Buhari led administration once again approached the World Bank for another loan of $1.5 billion to further cushion the negative impacts of COVID-19.

According to the people familiar with the process, the new loan is not receiving much attention from the multilateral financial institution as it insisted that some of the agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund before securing the $3.4 billion have not been implemented.

This, experts said was one of the main reasons the federal government made all the recent adjustments despite economic challenges and limitations.

The food index increase from 15.48 percent in July to 16 percent in the month of August, according to the statistics office.

“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam and other tubers, meat, fish, fruits, oils and fats and vegetables,” it added.

The persistent increase in prices bolstered cost of living and plunged consumer spending in Africa’s largest economy due to broad-based layoffs and businesses shutting down operations for a safe haven.

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NNPC Says It Spent N41.98 Billion on Pipeline Repairs in Six Months



pipleline vandalisation

NNPC Spends N41.98 Billion on Pipeline Repairs

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it spent a total sum of N41.98 billion on pipeline repairs and management in the first six months of the year.

The corporation stated in its latest monthly oil report, saying “Products theft and vandalism have continued to destroy value and put NNPC at disadvantaged competitive position.”

It explained that a total of 1,067 pipeline points were vandalised between June 2019 and June 2020 with 33 of those vandalised in June 2020. That was 11 percent lower than the 37 points vandalised in the month of May.

The NNPC said, “Mosimi-Ibadan accounted for 33 per cent while ATC-Mosimi and Warri-River Niger recorded 27 per cent of the breaks each; other locations make up for the remaining 13 per cent.

“NNPC in collaboration with the local communities and other stakeholders continuously strive to reduce and eventually eliminate this menace.”

Further break down showed the NNPC spent N5.48 billion on pipeline repairs and management costs in the month of January 2020. In February, March, April, May and June of the same year, the corporation spent N6.74 billion; N7.69 billion; N7.84 billion; N7.99 billion and N6.24 billion, respectively.

The corporation also said the pipelines have aged over the years, therefore, giving rise to frequent failures and consequent operational downtimes.

“In addition, these facilities have aged over the years giving rise to frequent failures and consequent operational downtimes, high maintenance cost and revenue losses,” the NNPC added.

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