Petrol price to come down in February

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The petrol price will come down by 13 cents a litre this week.

Both grades of petrol 93 (ULP and LRP) and 95 (ULP and LRP) will come down by 13 cents a litre as of Wednesday.

This will see a litre of 95 come down to R16.03 in Gauteng, down from R16.16 in January.

Meanwhile, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announced that both grades of diesel (0.05% Sulphur) and diesel (0.005% Sulphur) will come down by 5 cents a litre.

The price of illuminating paraffin (wholesale) will decrease by 3 cents per litre, while that of illuminating paraffin (SMNRP) go down by 4 cents a litre.

The Maximum Retail Price for LPGAS will decrease by 1 cents per kilogram.

The department said the average international product prices for petrol decreased, while the prices of diesel and illuminating paraffin increased during the period under review.

In a statement last Tuesday, the Automobile Association (AA) said ongoing declines in the price of oil were likely to give South Africans a breather in February.

“Ongoing declines in the price of oil, since the second week of the year, will give South African fuel users a breather for February,” said the association.

It added that oil had dipped to its lowest level since the start of December 2019.

“However, the Rand/US dollar exchange rate is steadily moving in the opposite direction, with the Rand having softened from its 1 January level of around R14.05 to the dollar, to its current average of R14.30.We have some concerns over this ongoing weakening in the absence of any overt Rand shocks. It is not a good sign of confidence in the SA economy,” said the AA. – SAnews.gov.za

DPWI resolving Eskom municipal debt

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has begun reconciling and verifying debt owed to Eskom by the country’s 257 municipalities.

Appearing before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Tuesday, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille unveiled the department’s plans to address the climbing Eskom debt.

As of 30 June 2019, municipalities reported that the overall government debt owed by the DPWI was just over R3 billion. However, as of 4 February 2020, 63%, or R1.97 billion, of the reported R3 billion debt had been resolved.

“At that stage (30 June 2019), 135 of the 257 municipalities reported their debt owed to DPWI. The remaining 122 municipalities did not report, as per the statutory requirements,” said the Minister.

The department, she said, is in the process of verifying and reconciling the debt owed for all 257 municipalities.

“The government debt campaign, which was started by DPWI on 1 August 2019, focused on the verification and reconciliation of the outstanding debt. The project is monitored weekly by DPWI regional offices, while progress update meetings are also held monthly with National Treasury,” De Lille told Scopa.

Municipalities were informed of the government debt project through letters in October 2019, whereby their cooperation to jointly resolve the reported debt was sought.

“Ongoing working sessions are being held with various municipalities, which include account by account reconciliations, verification of property ownership, securing sign-off on agreement between parties, setting timelines for delivery of invoices based on sign-off and payment/account credits,” De Lille said.

Following verification and engagements with the relevant municipalities, there was a difference of more than R1.7 billion from the R1.97 billion. De Lille said this means that once all the accounts of these municipalities were verified, the actual amount owed was R186 million, as opposed to the initially reported amount of R1.97 billion.

“This represents a significant difference in the actual amount owed to municipalities than what was initially reported by municipalities,” said De Lille.

While 63% of the debt has been resolved, the DPWI updated Scopa on the progress with engagements with more municipalities. DPWI is conducting ongoing engagements with 52 municipalities to verify R655 million, which was reported as owed to municipalities in the 30 June 2019 Section 71 reports, the Minister said.

Getting municipalities to comply

Meanwhile, as the campaign continues, 142 municipalities still have to be engaged to verify an amount of R388 million, as reported in the Section 71 reports on 30 June 2019.

During the verification and reconciliation process, it had been found that municipalities were unable to substantiate the reported figures stated in their Section 71 reports.

De Lille said the department is resolute in its commitment to settle all verified debts within 30 days of receipt of the statements.

“Despite the debt owed to the DPWI, the department continues to pay municipalities and Eskom on time. The DPWI has taken a decision to devolve the settling of municipal services to the various user departments, with effect from 1 April 2020.

“This has been communicated with all user departments, Eskom and municipalities. DPWI also met with Eskom on 5 December 2019 to address issues of common interest,” she said.

The Minister said no outstanding debt was highlighted during the meeting and no outstanding debt was raised in the follow up meeting held on 21 January 2020.

“Eskom in fact commended the DPWI on its timeous payment and confirmed the positive working relationship between its officials and DPWI officials. 

“DPWI is committed to settling all verified invoices within 30 days. Outstanding invoices are monitored on a weekly basis. All unpaid invoices in DPWI’s possession, as at 31 January 2020, are current, except for three offices with an arrears of R4.9 million,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The South African Mission in China has called on travellers to register their presence in China to provide an accurate figure of the number of South Africans in that country.

The call comes as South Africa continues to keep a close watch on developments in China following the declaration of the novel Coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week.

Giving an update on developments, the Health Department said the registration of travellers is on a voluntary basis.

The Health Department said it received a report from the South African Mission in China, which gives a situational update of the state of affairs in the Asian country.

“The report has been reassuring in that it outlines in detail the steps that have been taken by the Mission itself, the People’s Republic of China and the international community, including the private sector, in managing the outbreak and the adverse socio-economic sequelae thereof,” said the Health Ministry in a statement.

Within China, limited movement remains important. As a result, the Chinese school holidays have been extended to keep children at home. Government has also encouraged businesses to be more flexible about working hours and it has encouraged working from home as far as possible.

“We have been notified of 34 students, who recently graduated in Hubei Province and are currently unable to leave due to the province currently being under lockdown.

“However, due to the extension of the holidays and China’s commitments to supporting embassies and their respective citizens during the lockdown period, we remain confident that our students will be well taken care of, until such time they may be allowed to exit Hubei Province,” said the Ministry.

The Health Department reiterated that to date, no South Africans in China have been reported to have contracted the virus.

According to the report from the South African Mission, very careful attention is being paid to food security and logistics to ensure residents of Wuhan City and Hubei Province do not run out of food and basic essentials.

Since the start of the outbreak, organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing, Dell, Apple, L’Oreal and others have donated supplies, which range from face masks and other personal protection equipment, to funds that will go into research to develop a vaccine.

“This is the expected outcome of the WHO Declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and so we are very pleased to see multilateral collaboration at this level. 

“We would also like to congratulate the Japanese government for its strength in supporting the Chinese government. There are also thousands of volunteers who have donated their time and services to the cause,” said the Health Department.

To date, there is no proven medicine or vaccine against Coronavirus.

“We are in close communication with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, which continues to advise us on developments in the treatment of Coronavirus, based on sound academic literature.

“African countries outside of South Africa will make their own pronouncements on their response to Coronavirus and we expect that should there be a confirmed case, we will hear from the affected country’s authorities or the World Health Organisation,” said the department.

Anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms, with a travel history or contact with someone who has travelled, particularly to China, should seek immediate medical attention at their nearest clinic, GP or hospital.

The Emergency Operation Centre remains activated.

The Department of International Relations (DIRCO) has also established a hotline service in the South African Embassy in Beijing +85 135 0105 9041 and Shanghai +86 159 0045 4282 for South African nationals based in Wuhan City, China. – SAnews.gov.za

Ward Councillor Mapule returns to work

Ward 100 Councillor Mapule Mosito has returned to the council’s office to resume her duties after three months of maternity leave.

While Councillor Mapule was away, Councillor Patrick Maisha was appointed interim ward councillor.

Cllr  Mosito said her baby is doing well and she is happy to be back at work.

“We need to tackle community issues as we start the year,” she said. “At the moment we need to find ways to deal with illegal dumping. The community needs to be educated on how to take care of the environment. Community members also need to apply for extra dust bins to avoid illegal dumping.”

Illegal dumping is bad for health, especially for children’s health, Cllr Mosito said.

“We also need to work hard in conjunction with the police to reduce crime in the community,” she said. “Selling of drugs is another issue  because it is affecting  school children in our community. Some school children are using drugs and this has led to the rise of gangsters in schools.”

 Wrong-doing in community parks is another important issue, the councillor said. “People have a tendency to go to the parks and drink alcohol. That is wrong and it is against the law. We want to make sure that all the parks are closed by 6 pm every day.”

Cllr Mosito concluded by congratulating all Cosmo City matriculants for doing well in their exams.

“We are congratulating the class of 2019,” she said. “Those who could not make it should understand that it is not the end of the world. They should not give up because they still have another chance. “

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