Government sets out its case for taxing sugary drinks in parliamentary hearing

Business Day reports that if South Africans consumed fewer sugary drinks they’d be slimmer, have better teeth, and be more productive members of society, the Department of Health told Parliament on Monday as it set the scene for a packed day of public hearings on Treasury’s proposal to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. “Very often the public is not aware that sugar-sweetened beverages have a lot of sugar. Coke has about eight teaspoons of sugar, a Fanta 13 teaspoons. Can you imagine putting 13 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of tea?” said the department’s head of noncommunicable diseases, Melvyn Freeman.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in his budget speech last year plans of implementing this tax in April this year. The Treasury has proposed a tax of 2.29c/g of added sugar, which is roughly a 20% tax on the average price per litre of sugary drinks. However, this proposal has met stiff opposition from the beverage industry, which said last year that the tax could lead to massive job losses. Freeman said the government hoped raising the price of sugar-sweetened beverages with a tax would encourage people to consume less of them, particularly in poor communities.

by Tamar Kahn

Ref: Business  Live

Average South African real income was down 1.5% in December

BusinessLive reports that after taking inflation into account, the average South African earned 1.5% less in December than in the same month in 2015. Real salary adjustments in December reflected the longest — and fastest — decline since the index started in 2011. Furthermore, this is the seventh consecutive month that salaries have fallen year on year in real terms,” BankservAfrica head of information services Caroline Belrose said.

December’s average monthly pay after taxes and other deductions was R14,102 and the median was R10,397, according to the BankservAfrica Disposable Salary Index (BDSI) released on Tuesday. Adjusted for inflation, December’s average pay came to R11,309 — 1.5% lower than R11,484 in December 2015. Like salaries, private pensions also showed real-term decline indicating a 1.7% year-on-year decline in real terms.

by Robert Laing

Icasa lays criminal complaint against SABC over protest ban

Business Day reports that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has laid a criminal complaint against the SABC for failing to comply with its ruling on the broadcaster’s ban on violent protests. Icasa ruled in July last year that the SABC had to withdraw its decision not to air footage of violent protests as it was in breach of the Broadcasting Act and licensing conditions.

The watchdog said on Tuesday that the broadcaster had to date failed to provide proof that it had withdrawn its controversial resolution to ban the broadcast of violent protests. According to the Icasa Act, a person convicted of an offence, including of failing to comply with a decision made by the regulator, is liable to a fine of up to R1m or to imprisonment of up to a year.

by Bekezela Phakathi

Ref: Business Live

Security boss charged with pension theft

Cape Times reports that a criminal complaint has been laid against a Sea Point security company director, over allegations he stole the pension fund contributions of his security officers. The security company is contracted by various ratepayers associations operating within Bantry Bay and Sea Point.

The charges include theft and fraud and will be brought against the director over the next few days. The chairperson of a body corporate based in Sea Point said, “It seems to be an open secret within the area as the money was seemingly used to plug some holes in his company and that the ratepayers associations are aware of the situation. He said their body corporate would remain involved and assist the widow until the matter had been brought to a resolution.

by Dominic Adriaanse

Safetsa calls off TVET campus shutdown… for now

The Citizen reports that the South African Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa) called off its nationwide shutdown of the 265 Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) campuses and is giving Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande 14 days to address some of their concerns and grievances.

Safetsa general secretary Sibusiso Ntishibongo said they met Nzimande and his team on Friday and the department committed to addressing the problems highlighted by the association. Nzimande also agreed to speak to Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, and release the backlog results, as well as all certificates and diplomas. Ntishibongo said they would re-evaluate the situation after 14 days. “If they do not keep their word and if they were lying to us, we will seek the help of the courts  and make the TVET sector ungovernable.”

by Virginia Keppler

Mines fund to distribute claims worth R600m

Business Report writes that the Mines 1970 Unclaimed Benefits Preservation Pension and Provident Funds want to distribute the entire fund, totalling R600 million, to ex-mineworkers in SA, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Botswana and Zimbabwe by 2020. This is said to be only a fraction of the billions of rands that different pension funds are understood to owe ex-miners.  The 1970 Funds comprise 11,712 pension fund beneficiaries and 57,450 provident fund beneficiaries, located in different southern African countries.

“We have identified 73 percent of the pension fund beneficiaries and, families of the deceased, and 60 percent of provident fund beneficiaries and families,” said Sue Fritz, chairperson of the Funds on Monday. She said more than 19 000 beneficiaries traced were identified as deceased. The 1970s Funds said it had identified 62 percent of the missing beneficiaries in 25 months. In that period, the funds had paid more than R60 million in unclaimed benefits to beneficiaries.

by Siseko Njobeni

Ref: IOL News 

Unisa to reopen after wage agreement with Nehawu

BusinessLive reports that the registration of students at the University of SA (Unisa) is set to go ahead after a salary increment agreement was signed with the National Education and Health Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Monday. The workers accepted the four categories of increases put forward by Unisa’s management.  The categories ranged from a 5% increase for the highest-paid individuals to an 8% increase for the lowest-paid workers.

This came after a week-long strike by the trade union that saw Unisa’s campuses closed and registration delayed.  Nehawu’s Ntsako Nombeni said the terms of the official agreement would be finalised on Tuesday.  Nehawu represents half of Unisa’s 6,000 permanent staff. The parties agreed not to punish workers who had taken part in the strike action. This means the “no-work-no-pay” principle would not be applied.

by Michelle Gumede

Metrorail train repairs to delay for weeks

SABC News reports that Metrorail in Cape Town has warned it could take weeks before the train service between Retreat and Simon’s Town is restored. It has charged a truck driver who struck a level crossing boom near False Bay Station, causing severe damage. Metrorail spokesperson, Riana Scott, says technicians could take several weeks to complete repairs. Scott says Metrorail will be making shuttle services available to those travelling on the Southern line.

“Travel time between Simon’s Town and Cape Town is going to have an additional sixty plus minutes, that’s quite a lot so we are advising people to leave early and until further notice the following level of service applies. The trains from Cape Town will terminate at Retreat station. There’s a train shuttle operating between Retreat and Fish Hoek Station and then a train and or bus shuttle operating between Fish Hoek and Simon’s town.”

Employees who get tipped at work may be in for a tax shock

BusinessTech writes that the taxing of waiters and others who earn voluntary incomes – from tips, for example – may come under scrutiny in the 2017 National Budget Speech. Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, is expected to announce new tax rates in his Budget Speech on 22 February 2017.

Patricia Williams, tax partner at Bowmans law firm, noted that to promote equality and broaden the tax base more equitably, a new law may be introduced to deem all voluntary or other payments paid by customers for services rendered, as paid by the employer.  In this way, employee tax would be payable in the same manner as for other equivalent income earners, Williams said.

NEHAWU ‘not aware’ of new wage offer from UNISA

EWN reports that Unisa says there’s a new wage offer on the table and it’s hopeful staff members affiliated to trade union Nehawu will go back to work, but the union disagrees. Nehawu says it’s not aware of a new offer following negotiations which reached a deadlock at the weekend. It says the strike will continue until all workers receive a 10% salary hike.

University management is only offering 6%. Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela says all campuses are open today. “There’s a meeting scheduled by Nehawu members to discuss a revised offer today. But Nehawu’s national spokesperson Khaya Xaba says wage talks have reached a deadlock again. “While they are busy looking for the money to cover the shortfall we will continue with the strike. If there’s a new offer other than the 6% and it’s not been communicated to us, we’ll go to our members only with a new offer.”

by Mia Lindeque