Food inflation is to peak in this last quarter of 2016 and then improve for 2017 following better weather conditions.
That is, this quarter we are yet to embrace ourselves for higher food prices – the poor will be hit the hardest; some might, literally, starve to death.
Remember this is not all the bad news there is this quarter. There is so much more: expectations of US interest hike in December have risen, and if this coincides with a negative assessment of domestic prospects by rating agencies later in the year, the rand will fall badly.
That is chances of interest hike remain significant – your debt might increase.
When the police decided to investigate SA Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last month, they increased the possibility of interest rate hike.
It is more like rand was thrown in a crocodile infested river and was expected to come out unscathed.
Simply put: there will always be ramifications whenever a Finance Minister is accused of something. Investors will pull out and in this case, the rand will fall.
In capsule, you should continue tightening your belt. Continue to be mindful of how you spent the cents in our pocket. Because at this point, nobody knows what’s to come: a downgrade into junk status has never looked real.
And for those with a fixed income, it will dawn on to them what inflation really is.
Many people continue to ask: What more can we do to save? Apparently, their lives continue to fall apart irrespective of putting into use all the saving tips I have shared up to now.
Do you have a car? Arrive Alive offers you a lifeline; a list of fuel-saving tips:
Under-inflated tyres increase rolling resistance between your vehicle and the road; meaning your vehicle has to work harder to overcome the extra drag, thereby using more fuel. Research has shown that correctly inflated tyres can increase mileage by approximately 3.3%.
Every time you accelerate the engine has to work and every time you break, this energy is lost. Stop-start driving is therefore hard on energy (and the brakes) and does consume fuel. By planning your route carefully, and using your accelerator more gently, you will improve fuel economy.
Accelerating hard, and using high engine speeds, will also drastically impact your consumption. Another tip, if you can manage it, avoid rush hour traffic. The long delays in traffic will increase consumption and force you to make more stops at the pumps.
If you are idling for an extended period your vehicle will consume more fuel and expend more emissions. During idling period of several minutes or more, it’s best to switch off your engine (if it is safe to do so), which will reduce fuel consumption.
Any external additions to your car such as roof boxes and bicycle racks should be taken off when it’s not in use. These fixings change the airflow over the vehicle and increase the drag. Open windows and sunroofs also increase air drag over the car requiring extra power from your engine that will lead to increased fuel consumption.
The air conditioning unit in your car contains a compressor pump driven by the engine. When the aircon is used , the compressor uses power from your engine, thus increasing the work it has to do and the amount of fuel it needs to keep going.
Service your vehicle
A badly maintained car will not perform optimally. Poor engine performance means the vehicle will not operate according to the manufacture’s guidelines and will result in increased fuel consumption.
Keeping your car in good condition means it is working as it should and will use the fuel it needs. Check if your car has an ‘economy’ setting. If it does, activate it. It will make a difference.
When the economic climate is like this, you might as well save as if recession has already hit home.
Let me remind you: curbing inflation is not a task to be left solely in the hands of monetary authorities. Conspicuous consumption is largely blamed for our economic downfall. So, it is also our responsibility as a nation to buy only what we can really afford and need.
How am I contributing in the downfall of my economy? This is a question we should ask ourselves in the privacy of our own homes.
When we truly understand the impact of our spending habits on the economy, we somewhat opt to be citizens who care not only about themselves but for our country as well.
LEC to switch off households over debts
MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.
The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.
It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.
The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.
The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.
The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.
The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.
“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.
“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.
The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.
In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.
Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.
He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.
This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.
Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.
“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.
Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.
Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.
Bumper payout for former mineworkers
MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.
The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.
Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.
“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.
“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.
“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”
Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.
Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.
Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.
Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.
Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.
The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.
The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.
The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.
Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.
In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.
Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.
The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.
The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.
Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.
The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.
Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed
MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.
He now has 300 chickens.
He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.
That is threatening the viability of his business.
“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.
“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.
“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”
Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.
She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.
That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.
Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.
“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.
She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.
“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.
Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.
“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.
Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.
“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.
“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.
“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.
The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.
The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.
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