MAIZE BOARD CLOSES DOORS Mielie farmers want the Maize Board to pay back the R250-million raised through levies over the past two years following the closure of the board this week. The board ceased to exist in terms of the deregulation of the industry, but the 10 000 farmers, represented by the National Maize Producers' Organisation (Nampo), say that the levies in the stabilisation fund should be returned.
Levies, which have not been utilised for the past two years, amounted to R40 a ton in 1995 and R20 a ton last season. Leon du Plessis, head of the Maize Board, says the matter has been referred to the Agricultural Marketing Council.
An alternative is to use the funds for the creation of a trust for promotion and research. The R151-million owed by the board to the Land Bank is covered by a R411-million state guarantee.
SA PETROL PRICE RISES . . . The price of petrol will rise by 1c a litre from Wednesday, the Central Energy Fund said on Friday. The diesel price will increase by 6c, while paraffin drops 4c. Petrol will cost R2,22 a litre in Gauteng and R2,12 a litre at the coast. The CEF attributed the rise in the cost of petrol to a substantial increase in the international price of fuel over the past month.
. . . AND SO DOES ZIMBABWE'S Zimbabwe raised the retail price of petroleum products on Friday by up to 24%, saying this was necessary to keep fuel procuring firms viable. The government said the price hike - the second this year - would be absorbed by the economy, expected to grow by 5% this year. Petrol went up 12% to Z$5.11/ litre and diesel rose 16% to Z$4.03.
FOREIGN BOOM FOR SA BONDS Foreigners continued to pile into the SA bond market in April, buying nearly R5-billion worth of domestic gilts, latest Bond Exchange statistics show. The data shows foreigners were net buyers of R4.68-billion worth of bonds, up from R2.87-billion in March, which brought total net foreign purchases so far this year to R10.77-billion. In the same period a year ago, foreigners were net sellers of R2.23-billion worth of bonds.
RATE CUT STILL EXPECTED Sanlam Asset Management chief economist Jac Laubscher on Friday predicted that two interest rate cuts were still likely in the second half of the year. Reserve Bank governor Chris Stals last week appeared to throw cold water on expectations of rate cuts this year because of high levels of credit extension, but Laubscher says there is still room to manoeuvre. He says he is not too concerned about continued high private-sector credit extension because it appeared to have been fuelled by structural factors that would ease in due course.
INTERNET ACCORD A bloc of global and national companies and cyberspace bodies, brushing aside reservations from the US and the European Union, this week set up a new structure for registering addresses on the Internet. A total of 56 entities, with 23 pledging they would follow, signed an accord creating the new system which its designers say will establish self-governance for the Net, bring competition to the "domain name" business and end confusion over the allocation of "top-level domain" names. ý Reports by BT staff, Sapa-AP-AFP, Reuter