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