Philip Yea is ap­pointed to take the helm at Mondi from May

Pretoria News - - THE X-FILES - ANTONY SGUAZZIN | SANDILE MCHUNU [email protected]

SOUTH Africa’s big­gest trade union fed­er­a­tion Cosatu and lobby group Busi­ness Unity South Africa (Busa) are push­ing the gov­ern­ment to find a way to utilise an un­em­ploy­ment fund with as­sets of about $11 bil­lion (R181.82bn) to fight the ef­fects of the coro­n­avirus out­break.

Cosatu and Busa told the gov­ern­ment at a meet­ing on Mon­day that it must find ways to use the Un­em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance Fund (UIF) to fi­nance tem­po­rary lay-offs and other meth­ods of sup­port­ing com­pa­nies whose fi­nances have been hit, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of both or­gan­i­sa­tions said.

While South Africa has had only 62 con­firmed cases of the virus, the num­ber is ex­pected to grow and the gov­ern­ment has im­posed travel bans, school clo­sures and other re­stric­tions to slow its spread.

The rand and plunged.

The out­break comes at a time when stock prices have

South Africa is al­ready in a re­ces­sion and its state-owned com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing the cru­cial na­tional power util­ity, are deep in debt.

That gives the coun­try lit­tle fis­cal room to bail out strug­gling in­dus­tries.

“Much more needs to be done,” said Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s par­lia­men­tary co-or­di­na­tor. In ad­di­tion to the UIF, other state or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the De­vel­op­ment Bank of South­ern Africa should as­sist, he said.

Us­ing the UIF in the fight against the virus could leave thou­sands of work­ers, who faced un­em­ploy­ment even be­fore the dis­ease be­came a pan­demic, with­out any safety net.

South African com­pa­nies this year an­nounced plans to cut more than 10 000 jobs by the start of March.

Parks also sug­gested that the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, the R2.13 tril­lion fund man­ager that over­sees the pen­sions of state work­ers and the UIF, should be tapped.

Pri­vate banks should con­sider loan hol­i­days for strug­gling con­sumers, he said.

All em­ployed South Africans and em­ploy­ers pay into the UIF, and reg­u­la­tions would need to be al­tered to al­low it to be used in the man­ner sug­gested, the or­gan­i­sa­tions said.

The gov­ern­ment’s con­tin­gency re­serve, about R5bn, can also be used, said Martin Kingston, vice-chair­per­son of Busa.

Busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives ar­gued for the gov­ern­ment to re-pri­ori­tise its spend­ing away from non-es­sen­tial State com­pa­nies, such as the bank­rupt na­tional air­line, said peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the talks.

The State should fo­cus on health­care and sup­port­ing cru­cial in­sti­tu­tions such as power com­pany Eskom and State rail and ports com­pany Transnet, they said. There should also be re­lief for com­pa­nies strug­gling to meet debt re­pay­ment com­mit­ments.

More meet­ings are planned soon and ac­tion from the gov­ern­ment is ex­pected, they said.

PACK­AG­ING and pa­per firm Mondi has ap­pointed Philip Yea as its new chair­per­son and non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, tak­ing over from the de­part­ing David Wil­liams who an­nounced his re­tire­ment in March last year.

The group said yes­ter­day that Yea would join the group as non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at the begin­ning of next month and he would as­sume the chair­man­ship role after the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing on May 7.

He takes the role at a time when the com­pany re­cently sim­pli­fied its cor­po­rate struc­ture. Wil­liams was ap­pointed as chair­per­son in 2009, hav­ing joined the group in 2007.

Mondi re­cently ap­pointed a new chief ex­ec­u­tive in An­drew King, who was the group’s chief financial of­fi­cer (CFO) after Peter Oswald re­signed in

Jan­uary. The group is in the process of re­cruit­ing a new CFO.

Stephen Har­ris, Mondi’s se­nior in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor, paid trib­ute to Wil­liams on be­half of the board. “I would like to take the op­por­tu­nity, on be­half of the Mondi board, to thank David for his im­mense con­tri­bu­tion to Mondi since its list­ing in 2007,” Har­ris said.

Har­ris also wel­comed Yea to his new role and the group’s chair­per­son.

“We are de­lighted that Philip will be join­ing us. He has ex­ten­sive listed com­pany ex­pe­ri­ence, both as an ex­ec­u­tive and non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, across a range of sec­tors.”

Yea grad­u­ated with an MA in Mod­ern Lan­guages from Ox­ford Univer­sity and is a fel­low of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tants.

Mondi’s shares closed 5.33 per­cent higher at R264.50 on the JSE yes­ter­day.

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