Africa briefs

12 September 2018 | Ekonomie
SA business confidence slips

South African business confidence fell marginally in the third quarter, a survey showed yesterday, after the economy slipped into recession and hopes faded for a revival under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) business confidence index compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research fell to 38 points in the third quarter from 39 points in the second, dropping further below the 50-mark that separates net positive and negative readings.

"The underlying South African business landscape continues to weaken, with more sectors showing signs of strain," said RMB's chief economist Ettienne Le Roux. "While confidence hasn't [yet] fallen to the levels observed during the previous [and severe] recession of 2009, we remain deeply concerned about the prospects."

The index also lost 6 points in the second quarter.

Business confidence raced to a 2-1/2 year high in January after Ramaphosa's election as leader of the ruling African National Congress in December. – Nampa/Reuters

Zim wants to clear World Bank arrears

Zimbabwe's new finance minister said on Monday he would accelerate plans to pay arrears to the World Bank and the African Development Bank and would work on a three-year programme to cut government spending.

Mthuli Ncube did not spell out how he would speed the clearance of US$1.8 billion in arrears - but said it would be a vital step in rebuilding investors' confidence.

Economists have said the repayments would be a vital step towards Zimbabwe qualifying for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

But such a programme could come with politically painful conditions, including a reduction of the huge civil service and a cut in the budget deficit from 16% to single-digit levels, say analysts.

Ncube said he would discuss the size of the civil service wage bill with new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but did not go into further detail. – Nampa/Reuters

Zambia to limit fiscal deficit

Zambia plans to limit its deficit to 5.1% of GDP by 2021 from 7.8% in 2018, the ministry of finance said.

Africa's No.2 copper producer has targeted inflation to be within the 6-8% range and economic growth of at least 4% between 2019 and 2021, it said.

Zambia intends to increase domestic revenue to not less than 19% of GDP and boost its international reserves to at least four months of import cover by 2021, the statement said.

The economic and fiscal reforms undertaken in the last two years had resulted in relative macroeconomic stability such as a stable exchange rate and single digit inflation, it said.

Zambia's external debt rose to US$9.37 billion by the end of June from US$8.7 billion in December, the finance ministry said recently after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised concerns over the nation's high borrowing. – Nampa/Reuters

Tanzania gets tough on Airbnb

Tanzania told short-stay accommodation operators on Monday to register their facilities with the government in the next 50 days or face arrest, in a move affecting those signed up with US short-term rental service Airbnb Inc.

Rosada Musoma, assistant director of licensing and control in the ministry of tourism, said when the 50-day period expires at the end of next month, the government will go from "house to house" and arrest any operators who have failed to register.

Siriri Akko, the executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, told Reuters that the government's decision would create fairness in business and protect tourists from any problems.

"Even if they [accommodation operators] receive a low number of tourists, they should pay taxes and license fees like others because their business is growing fast as tourists now want to experience life outside hotels," he said.

Local representatives for Airbnb were not immediately available for comment. – Nampa/Reuters

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