SACOB REJECTS WEALTH TAX The SA Chamber of Business has dismissed suggestions that government should consider the imposition of a wealth tax. Sacob director-general Raymond Parsons told a meeting in Witbank on Friday that government should rather make greater efforts to collect the estimated R20-billion that is due to it under the present tax system.
"The overall tax burden in the current fiscal year will probably reach 26% of GDP, which is already higher than the 25% limit to which the government is committed," Parsons said.
The wealth tax proposal was suggested at this week's TRC hearings into the role of business during apartheid. "How many times can we tax the same base in an economy which is investment starved? We have already pointed out that some 16 new levies and taxes are being proposed by various ministries, which would have an adverse impact on economic activity," Parsons added.
SURPLUS 'LIKELY TO DOUBLE' Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin forecast last week that SA's trade surplus would more than double to R24.8-billion in 1997. In reply to a question in parliament, he said that based on half-year figures for 1997, exports for the full year were expected to reach R154.4-billion and imports R129.6-billion. The figures for 1996 were R126billion in exports and imports of R115.5-billion, resulting in a trade surplus of R10.6-billion.
Erwin said the biggest growth in trade last year had been with Angola, which, at R1.78-billion, increased nearly threefold over 1995. Trade with Kuwait was up 171% in 1996, with the United Arab Emirates up 97%, Australia 69% and Spain 55%.
WHITE MAIZE MAY FALL SHORT Southern Africa could see a white maize shortage of between 500 000 and a million tons this year, the SA National Maize Producer's Organisation said on Friday. "If we look at the demand for white maize in SA and its neighbours, it looks like there could be a shortage of up to 1-million tons in the region," Nampo's Giel van Zyl said.
He said although SA maize farmers had started planting, it would be on a reduced level following warnings of an El Niño-induced drought.
AFRICAN HARVEST IN NAMIBIA Black economic empowerment took another leap into Africa this week when investment holding company African Harvest struck a R140-million joint venture with Namibia's AE/Gams Financial Services (AFS) to form Namibian Harvest Investment Holdings (NHH).
Mashudu Ramano, African Harvest chairman, said the Namibian deal marked the evolution of African Harvest's strategy to create relationships between SA and the region. The recently listed African Harvest is a R1.2-billion joint venture between black investors and financial services group Coronation.
Ramano would not state whether African Harvest was looking for more opportunities in other southern African countries but he said the Namibian company had "a few projects in sight".
AFS chairman Aaron Mushimba said NHH had already acquired Namibian Asset Managers which has funds under management of R2-billion and has a strong interest in financial services.
NHH will have a 70% stake in Namibian Harvest Investments which will be listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange in due course. The remaining 30% would be offered to other Namibian investors.
VW JOINS ROLLS-ROYCE CHASE Volkswagen on Friday officially joined the chase for luxury car maker Rolls-Royce, changing its mind and confirming for the first time that it was now interested in buying one of the great icons of British style.
Rolls-Royce parent company Vickers, which has put it up for sale in an auction process expected to fetch up to Dm1.2-billion, dismissed a report in Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper on Friday which said that VW had already beaten rival BMW in the race.
BMW is widely viewed as the favourite to win the bidding which also includes Ford, Daimler-Benz, Fiat and Toyota .
SA FUNDS LOOKING ABROAD Between 10 and 15 large SA pension funds could be looking for overseas managers for their offshore portfolios once exchange controls are fully lifted, according to Mercury Asset Management (MAM), Britain's biggest independent investment group with funds of more than £100-billion.
On the eve of his first visit to SA since the early 1980s, MAM chairman, Hugh Stevenson said: "It is clearly an attractive market for us, especially since the relaxation of exchange controls."
MAM is one of three firms which are handling $800-million of offshore investments generated by asset swaps by Sanlam and Norwich Life. It also hopes to sign up a mandate soon to run a European portfolio for an SA pension fund.
Sanlam is also co-manager of MAM's £30-million Southern Africa Investors Trust - with 90% in SA shares - which is to switch from being a closed-ended vehicle to an open-ended fund. MAM's other emerging markets and gold and mining funds have a further $600-million invested in the JSE. ý Reports by BT staff, Sapa and Reuter