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Articles in Category: PACSA and Partners in the Media



Food prices: Intensified poverty

SA’S investment rating will be cut to junk status in 2016, says François Conradie, head of research at NKC African Economics. However, this won’t be the biggest danger to the economy this year. The crippling food prices, increased because of one of the worst droughts on record, should be greater cause for concern, he says. The drought has already caused large spikes in food prices. A food basket survey by the Markets & Economic Research Centre shows prices rose by 8.7% between December 2014 and December 2015, exceeding inflation. The same effects were seen in the baskets of low-income households in November 2015, with month-on-month increases averaging 4.47% through to February 2016, according to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action, an NGO that closely tracks and publishes a monthly index of prices of a basic basket of goods.
Read the full article published in Financial Mail on 10 March 2016 at http://www.financialmail.co.za/fmfox/2016/03/10/food-prices-intensified-poverty

Local anger is rising against South Africa’s ‘resource curse'

South African society’s conflict with a mainstay of the country’s corporate economy – resource extraction – is permanently on display in the platinum, gold and coalfields in the north and north-east of the country...The latest incident, which claimed the life of a leading anti-mining activist, comes as poorer South Africans feel the effects of soaring food, transport and electricity prices. The misery and anger is compounded by the fact that the government has been shrinking state welfare grants – not in nominal terms, but after adjustment for the cost of living...setting aside ubiquitous corruption, government’s two major economic policy weaknesses are excessive fiscal stinginess for the poor, combined with intensified state investment in mining-supportive infrastructure.

More month than money

It may soon become almost impossible for low-income households to tighten their belts any further, a development agency has warned. On top of a weakened rand and drought-induced food price hikes, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) last week gave Eskom permission to hike electricity tariffs by 9.4% to recoup some of the billions it spent on diesel to operate open-cycle gas turbines to keep the lights on. The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) said the recent increase in state social grants would not lessen the pain for the poor.
Read the full article published in City Press on 18 March 2016 at http://city-press.news24.com/News/more-month-than-money-20160312

Days of hunger looming

The price of food in the baskets of low-income households shot up by nine percent in the three months to January — and there are more price hikes to come. “Extreme levels of food price inflation call on government to intervene ­immediately and decisively where they are able to,” the Pietermaritzburg ­Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) said in its survey of monthly food inflation for low-income ­households that was released yesterday.

The month-on-month increases in the December and January food price ­data were eight times higher than the average monthly increases over the ­preceding 12-month period, Pacsa said.  Read the full article here published by News24 on 2 February 2016.

Inflation 'cancels' grant increases before implemented

The ink on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget 2016 hardly had time to dry before food price inflation wholly undermined the increases he gave to social grants. At the time of the budget, critical economists such as Dick Forslund pointed out that increases in everything from pensions to child grants lagged behind the official level of inflation. Now the authoritative Pietermaritzburg Agency for Social Development (Pacsa) has noted. 
Read the full article published in Fin24 on 3 March 2016 at http://www.fin24.com/Economy/inflation-cancels-grant-increases-before-implemented-20160303

April’s fool is no joke

Despite today typically being one on which people play practical jokes on each other and behave foolishly, South Africans are not laughing. This is according to DebtBusters, which notes there are many factors weighing on South Africans' pockets. The company says today the “economy will be playing the biggest joke of all and South Africans will not be laughing this time round”. Among the strains South Africans are facing is the increase in the petrol levy, which comes into effect today, as does Eskom’s 9.4 percent tariff hike.
Read the full article published in IOL on 1 April 2016 at http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/aprils-fool-is-no-joke-2003809

Rising food prices a challenge for low-income households

Julie Smith from the Pietermaritzburg Social Agency for Community Social Action has been speaking to Newswatch ahead of their release of this month's Food Price Barometer Report. The report tracks the prices of more than 30 basic food items across a number of retail stores servicing particularly the lower-middle income market. Smith says the figure is at least eight times higher than last year's average food increase of 0.5% to 2% month-to-month. She predicts the situation is likely to get worse as the drought continues to impact local food production.  Read the full article here published in East Coast Radio on 28 January 2016.