Business and Economy Highlights This Week

  • Consumption of petrol and electricity has slowed down following disruptions caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic, new data from the regulator has revealed. According to the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, daily petroleum consumption had dropped by 34 percent since January — coinciding with the pandemic that has slashed travel as most people stayed home.
  • Tanzania cannot afford to impose movement restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic despite a sharp increase in infections over the past few weeks, President John Magufuli said. Confirmed cases had jumped to 284 with 10 deaths by Wednesday, from 20 cases and one death at the start of the month. Close to three-quarters of the cases are in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
  • Egypt’s Cairo Metro announced that they will be adhering to the curfew timing announced by the government during the holy month of Ramadan. The Metro authorities said that any new changing for the currant curfew time will be followed with changing in the operation timing. Currently, all three lines of Cairo Metro start operating at 6 a.m. and last operating metro in the first line leaves Helwan station at 19:15 p.m.
  • The Mauritian Revenue Authority has announced zero-rated VAT on specific medical supplies due to the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement includes application of zero-rated VAT on hand sanitizer, protective masks and specific breathing equipment. The measures take effect today.
  • With an SAA liquidation looking increasingly likely, the situation looks bleak for employees at the airline’s subsidiaries, including SAA Techinical – which has told staff that it is unable to pay full salaries in April, due to a lack of bailout from the government. 2,319 workers will receive only 50 percent of their salaries, according to reports, while the subsidary itself has been earmarked for possible sale to help keep SAA afloat. The airline administrators say it does not have enough money to meet any financial obligations past 30 April 2020.
  • The Ministry of Trade and Industry said it has taken measures against 25,068 entities that disrupted business operations following the outbreak of the coronavirus. According to Melaku Alebel, Minister of Trade and Industry, the measures range from issuing warning letters to closure of the businesses. The Ministry sealed 13,350 businesses for unfairly taking advantage of the outbreak of the virus, while suspending licenses of 404 entities, Melaku said.
  • Employers will be barred from sacking their workers or forcing them to take pay cuts during the Covid-19 pandemic as Parliament moves to protect the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans. The National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee has recommended that employers who are struggling to pay salaries due to drastic drops in revenue streams can only grant unpaid leave days to their staff during the period of the pandemic.
  • South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced further tax measures to assist businesses and their employees through the difficult Covid-19 period. The additional tax relief measures include the fast-tracking of VAT refunds to help with cash flows, a four-month holiday for company skills development levy contributions and a three-month delay for the filing and first payment of carbon tax.
  • Despite the measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Moroccan agricultural sector is faring well with an abundant supply of the domestic market and exports of fruits and vegetables up 3 percent to 876,000 tons by mid-April compared with a year earlier.