The rich will pay more tax. That’s one of the most riveting things to come out of South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2017 budget speech. Income tax increases across the board did not materialise, but wealthy South Africans will be taxed at a higher bracket. Taxpayers earning more than $115,000 a year will pay a 45% tax rate. Around 100,000 taxpayers will be affected. Investors and global credit agencies were keen to hear Gordhan’s speech — his second one in his second stint as finance minister. Here is a closer look at 12 things you should know about the 2016 South African budget speech.
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Dana Sanchez, 2:37 pm
Marijuana is illegal in South Africa, but the country is a step closer to legalizing it for medicinal purposes. The South African government plans to soon publish proposed guidelines for production of cannabis, known locally as dagga. “This is a major breakthrough and fantastic news for freedom of choice,” said Narend Singh, MP for the Inkatha Freedom Party. The hemp industry is interested in legalizing the strain of cannabis used for hemp. SA imports $76 million worth of hemp products a year, Singh said. There’s also a case due to be heard in the Constitutional Court calling for full legalization including for recreational use.
Staff, 1:01 am
Emerging markets such as Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa are expected to grow twice as fast as advanced economies as technology improves productivity. SA and Nigeria are among the few countries expected to see a marked acceleration of annual average growth over the next few decades. However, PwC warns that to support this long-term sustainable growth, the countries need to diversify their exports to ensure their growth is not dampened by global price or demand shocks.
Dana Sanchez, 1:01 am
Local Nigerian appetites for luxury appear to be intact, despite the country’s financial hardship since crude oil prices fell off a cliff. Trendy hotspots are constantly appearing. There are rumors of a Nobu restaurant under construction. When wealthy Nigerians want a shopping spree without the airfare to London, some go to Polo Luxury, which operates luxury retail outlets across West Africa. Jennifer Obayuwana is executive director of the company founded by her father. She spoke to Forbes about the planned March launch of Polo’s luxury online shopping platform – a first of its kind in Africa.
Dana Sanchez, 11:07 am AFKI Original
South African media giant Naspers is launching its 18-month-old internet TV service ShowMax in Poland. It plans to provide hyper-local content and original productions rather than trying to compete with expensive shows designed to appeal to audiences worldwide. It’s competing with the much older, bigger, more established U.S. firm Netflix, which launched in 1998. Netflix is also commissioning original content, but it has an overseas problem, one commentator said. “It just doesn’t have the amount of local content that some of the (streaming and pay TV) competitors have.”
Dana Sanchez, 5:34 pm
With its island-building binge, Dubai is a big customer for African sand. So are Africa’s expanding concrete manufacturing giants. For the island project “The Palm Jumeirah,” Dubai used 200 million cubic meters of sand and stone. Some of the sand came from the sea off Dubai’s coast but a large amount came from African beaches. In Cape Verde, one in three people is unemployed. Sand mining is a fast way to earn money. The consequences of excessive sand mining are devastating. On beaches where tortoises once buried their eggs, there is now only dirt and stones.
Dana Sanchez, 2:10 pm
The South African rand lost almost half its value against the U.S. dollar over the past five years as the country struggled through economic crisis. Zuma welcomed the investigation, saying the government is prepared to act against distorted financial markets “to protect our country’s economy.” He said the financial sector needs new players to diversify, and the government plans to establish a state bank. South Africa’s competition watchdog recommends fines of 10% of banks’ annual in-country turnover.
Dana Sanchez, 4:16 pm
The world’s largest furniture and homeware store, Ikea, has collaborated with some of the best designers in seven sub-Sahran African countries to curate its first African collection in what is described as an effort to “democratize design.” Ikea says it wants to tap into the “creative explosion” happening across the continent. The furniture and homeware collection will focus on “modern rituals and the importance they play in the home.” The collection probably won’t be accessible in the African cities that inspired it. Ikea’s only African outlets are in Morocco and Egypt.
Staff, 1:02 pm
It may be surprising to learn that North Korea has long fostered diplomatic, economic and military relations with various African countries. These relations have thrived even after widespread international condemnation following its first nuclear test in 2006. An Africa pivot may be the only option left for the country as China -— its traditional ally — increasingly distances itself. Following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test over the weekend, the U.N. warned members to “redouble efforts” to enforce existing sanctions.
Tom Jackson, 12:35 pm AFKI Original
Despite the hype, profitability is still an unattainable ideal for Nigerian online shopping giants Konga and Jumia. Believers say e-commerce in Africa is “absolutely a long-term play.” They expect the short- and medium-term to be challenging. Players are still working on fast and easy payments and refunds, and trouble-free deliveries and returns. “It takes a long time for consumers to become comfortable shopping online, and it’s hard and expensive to accelerate this,” a stakeholder said. Investors aren’t all put off though. The potential prizes are too great.
Dana Sanchez, 2:34 pm
Supporters of the conflict minerals rule say it successfully held manufacturers accountable for the minerals they source from DRC. Its suspension would “enrich abusive thugs” and could lead to the complete repeal of Dodd-Frank regulations, implemented after the 2007-2009 financial crisis to limit risky practices that caused the U.S. banking crisis. However a U.S.association of manufacturers estimates the law costs U.S. businesses $9-to-$16 billion. This led to the suspension plan by Trump, who campaigned on a pro-business platform.
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