Top 5 on Fin24: Rand breaches R14/dollar, National Treasury releases VAT report and govt considers laying off 30 000 public servants

Cape Town - A roundup of Friday's top economic and finance reads on Fin24.

Rand breaches R14/dollar for first time this year

The rand has dipped to its lowest level in nearly nine months, trading at R14.11 against the greenback by 15:56 on Friday, Bloomberg reported.

After opening at R13.71/$, the rand was 2.98% weaker by late afternoon, with Bloomberg reporting a flight from risk in markets weighed on emerging-market currencies. 

Expert panel recommends white bread, school uniforms be zero VAT rated

National Treasury has released a report from the expert panel into zero-rated value added tax items, which has recommended that white bread, sanitary products, school uniforms and nappies be included among items that are zero-rated for tax (VAT).

The panel was asked to assess the current list of zero-rated food items and consider additional zero-rated items to be included, as well as measures to mitigate the impact of VAT the increase on poorer households.

Investors aim to sue Steinhoff for R190bn in class-action suit

Standard Chartered and Commerzbank AG are among companies targeted by investors suing Steinhoff International Holdings [JSE:SNH] to recover as much as €12bn (R190bn at current exchange rates) they claim they lost because of accounting irregularities at the retail giant.

The suit was filed in Johannesburg and seeks class-action status to cover shareholders who bought Steinhoff stock from June 26, 2013 to December 5, 2017, South African lawfirm LHL Attorneys said in an emailed statement.

Govt considering laying off 30 000 public servants - report

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his closing rem

Government may lay off 30 000 public servants in an effort to cut the public sector wage bill. 

The Mail & Guardian on Friday reported the process would take place over three years and could save up to R20bn, according to sources who attended the Cabinet lekgotla earlier in the week. 

An unnamed senior government official told the newspaper that National Treasury has set aside R4bn for severance packages.

New Zealand to ban single-use plastic bags

Plastic bag

New Zealand became the latest country Friday to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying they would be phased out over the next year as a "meaningful step" towards reducing pollution.

New Zealand uses "hundreds of millions" of single-use plastic bags each year, many of which end up harming marine life, Ardern said.

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