Dear All,

Apologies for the lack of communication from us over the past few weeks, we have had our hands full, both chasing relief efforts in circles and assisting our clients where we can. Whilst this update is overdue, the past few weeks seem to reflect the uncertainty, in economic terms, which exists in everyone’s minds. Whilst not our job to comment on the veracity of the countries policies we have been witness to constant U-Turning by our leaders. The daily ‘moving of the goalposts’ is making a difficult task, even more challenging for all of us. This newsletter may well reflect this fragmented place we find ourselves in as we try and touch on items of interest.


TERS APPLICATIONS AND PAYOUTS
I address this first as this is the most immediate relief which is driving everyone slightly loopy, spare a thought for poor Taryn who is starting to resemble a sleep deprived vampire. She is managing to slip between emotional states at a remarkable speed so much so we imagine we will have to fork out for a team of mental health professionals to deal with her once COVID lifts. We will be passing the hat around later for contributions to this cause.


More seriously folk, the April pay outs resemble a hit and miss. We have processed a bevy of applications on your behalf and are in close contact with many of you who have done your own applications to realise we are dealing with a department which is understaffed and under skilled to deal with the volume of applications. The problems stem from the rules changing frequently coupled with a level of misadministration within the department itself. As rapidly as problems manifest we find workarounds but the task itself is monumental.


We have reassigned some of our staff to assist and have created a TERS UIF email address. These staff will be bugging UIF twice daily on each application not fully paid. You should start getting correspondence from them today as well as our encouragement for you to address that email with your enquiries, telephone calls are hard to manage with the volume we are receiving. Just so you know you are not alone, our own application was the first, as we always like to guinea pig ourselves, and we too have claims against certain of our own staff which remain unpaid to date.


So based upon that, we share the frustrations many of you are enduring, but ask you to be patient, we have a list of all the short and non-payments and are taking a greasy wheel approach with each and every one, and we will get there in the end.


What is even more concerning is that the May applications are not yet open and the department have said they will not be opening May until all of April is resolved. May 2021? I hope not.

OTHER RELIEF
These have become too numerous to list individually, most of which are fairly useless. We have applied for a stack of Debt Relief Loans from The Solidarity Fund, on your behalf, and as of yet have had no pay outs. We are pestering our contacts there but it’s a bit like logging an electricity fault, you spend a chunk of time listening to lift music, get given a number, which initially excites you, only to find that it is largely where the process stops. We will keep you updated as things start to happen, if you haven’t yet lodged an application but believe it may be useful, you are welcome to email Derane on derane@mrmfs.co.za for assistance.


The banks loan relief also seems to be coming on line. Our banker at FNB is happy to attend to any FNB clients who wish to have loan assistance but am sure all of your own banks will be offering the same. If you need some guidance in terms of how to manage your cash flow through this crisis, we are only a phone call (Skype, Whatsapp, Email, Teams, Meets, Zoom) away.


OTHER
And now for some general waffle.


The countries economics continue to confuse. As most of you know we suffered a Moody’s downgrade from investment status to junk status, a move heralded by economists and other wise men as dire and had everyone dusting off their EU Passports, phoning the greencard people and ringing the doomsday bell that the days of Zimbabwe had finally arrived.


In short, we were told, that this was going to cause a mass selloff of government bonds which meant the return the Government offered on these bonds would need to rise as much as 30% in order to circumvent the 250 gazillion rand sell off and this was touted as a no brainer.


As of yesterday the Government Bond rate settled back to 9%, the rate before the downgrade, go figure.

Sorry, I got carried away in nerd language, apologies. Basically, it was going to cost us more to borrow money from outside the country which meant that our countries interest debt goes up as the Government pilfer the funds, or more importantly, the interest rates the banks will charge you on borrowed funds will rise.


So once again South Africa acts contrary to popular theory.


I have seen at least 10 reports in the last 7 days from listed companies warning that profits have decreased in excess of 25% with some as high as 70% yet our stock exchange still reflects a marginal decrease. The equilibrium is way way out.


When we ran over R19 to the dollar, the same panic ensued, people were selling their family and pets to buy foreign currency as we were told that the end was indeed nigh and we were teetering on the brink of currency collapse. The exchange rate to the dollar is R18.15 at the time of writing. Go figure. Our economy therefore continues to be duplicitous, it says one thing but does another. Perhaps our economy is bipolar?


Whilst I am not even close to being an expert I have learned over the years not to listen to popular opinion and everyone MUST continue to ask themselves the two questions: Is my capital safe and what is the upside on my investments? If your answers are satisfactory then keep the status quo. If not, then run with your capital, run and don’t look back. Once your investments become a gamble, then they are no longer investments and should not be viewed as such.


Anyway, enough of that boring stuff. We urge you to keep dissecting your cash flow, keep saving where you can, keep exploring new markets and new operational methodologies. Fine tune your businesses along with your staffs’ roles therein. Explore new technologies. This year breaks the rulebook on what is normal. Something that worked before COVID can’t be relied upon to work after COVID passes. This is a time of innovation, make sure you capitalise on this.


Listen well to the much maligned youth of today, they are our future markets, we don’t have to agree with their ideologies to cater for them. Whilst the outlook for many looks bleak, if you scratch around long enough you will find that silver lining.


No one wants to hear it but we still have a long road ahead of us folk. I have stressed it repeatedly, you need to plan like you have never planned before. You need to be in control. Don’t be like our leaders, make your decisions and remain resolute with them in order that staff within your businesses know that they are being led with strength and not indecision.


As always, we are around to assist, if needed.


Be innovative, be resolute and most of all, be safe.
Chris, Shireen and the MRM Team