Brace yourself for another tough year

HUMOUR, hard work and toughness are the traits of South Africans in hard times. They helped us through 2016. Water restrictions. President Jacob Zuma’s ill-advised pandering to the Gupta family, racist online posts, the FeesMustFall campaigns and the attempts by business, labour and government, led by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, to avoid a ratings downgrade of the economy

Over the holiday period we have been able to take a breather and spend time with friends and family. Happily, many families can take pride in the achievements of this year’s matrics.

But the signs are already there that 2017 is going to be challenging and we will need those traits of humour, hard work and mental tough­ness to see us through.

The ANC. divided between the the pro- and anti-Zuma factions, will turn inwards, and the paralysis evident in the ruling party and gov­ernment will continue.

One positive should be an improvement in the drought situation, with experts predicting more rain and fuller dams. This will be good for agriculture, leading to more food and jobs.

Which brings us to the plight of the ordinary person and how they will cope when in real terms incomes are declining. The first chal­lenge is next week’s increase of 51 cents a litre for fuel and more than 40 cents for diesel. The consumer will land up paying for the additional input costs of manufacturers and farmers.

Neil Roets. CEO of Debt Rescue, said with food inflation running at 11 % and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 6.6 %, there was no relief in sight for consumers.

Despite half the consumers being three months behind in their payments, people have not cut back on spending. Total consumer debt is almost R1.6-trillion and according to a recent World Bank index, this country is one of the most indebted. To survive 2017, people will have to make more effort to budget for expenses such as school fees and paying credit card debt.

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