FUEL PROFIT MARGIN RAISED The government has approved a 2c a litre increase in the wholesale profit margin on petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin with effect from November 5, the Central Energy Fund said on Friday.
Margins are set by the government as part of a regulatory framework set up during the apartheid years. The oil industry has been asking for an increase in the wholesale margin, which affects its earnings potential, for some time.
The government is currently revising the system, but has yet to implement a new policy and the decision to increase the margin is seen as an interim measure until the new policy is in place.
Colin McLelland, director of the SA Petroleum Industry Association, said the 2c increase, which is below the 3c the industry had requested, would add a R360-million a year to industry earnings.
The CEF also announced that petrol prices would rise by 3c a litre and diesel prices by 5c a litre with effect from Wednesday. Illuminating paraffin will increase by 4c a litre.
BLANK BACK IN BUSINESS Market talk is that former stockbroker Greg Blank, now on parole after being released from jail last year, is poised to announce details of his new financial services group this week.
It is believed that the new company, which would be injected into the Sho-craft listing, will include Blank's company Lex Trading, as well as two acquisitions: a stockbroking firm and a property trading company. Other purchases are being wrapped up. Blank refused to comment.
PROBE INTO BILL'S EFFECTS Deputy director-general of labour Les Kettledas on Friday told a parliamentary committee that the department has called for an investigation into the effect of the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill on small business. He said that to exempt small business "would require a definition of who was to be excluded", Marcia Klein reports.
The department had held talks with the Department of Trade and Industry's centre for small business promotion, which was prepared to jointly conduct the investigation.
The public service, however, will be exempt for 18 months. Ketteldas explained that the public sector had a bargaining council "and the conditions are in most instances better than the bill". It would take time for the public service to reorganise and renegotiate conditions with the bargaining councils.
DP leader Tony Leon said the department seemed to be putting the cart before the horse. He said there were problems with immediate implementation, the public service would not be bound by the law for 18 months and there were problems with the effect the bill would have on small business. "You want to proceed with the passage of this bill but to delay promulgation."
Commenting on submissions which said the bill would increase labour costs, Kettledas said long hours could lead to fatigue and result in accidents which were a huge cost to the employer, and the bill had the potential to reduce accidents. ý Reports by BT staff, Reuters