The South African Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced a surprise repo rate cut of 100 basis points to 4.25% last week. The latest series of rate cuts has afforded South Africans some relief as they continue to battle financial pressure due to the impact of Covid-19 and is aimed at improving the resilience of households and businesses.
The financial burden on many households and businesses has significantly increased due to the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. The adjustment in the repo rate will give consumers an element of breathing room if they have debt obligations. What it essentially assists consumers with is reduces the cost of their loan, which can impact a home or student loan, a credit card or a vehicle repayment.
Those consumers who are in a position to reduce their levels of debt at this time, should consider reducing their exposure. The lower rate environment presents an excellent opportunity to prioritise the reduction of long-term and short-term debt. Consumers who are in the position to do so should continue to pay the same instalment amount as they were prior to the rate cut. The best way to squash your debt is to start paying more than what the instalment requires each month.
Many businesses and consumers are still receiving their full salary or earnings benefits. Consider meeting your ongoing personal or contractual business commitment where possible. It is essential that our businesses and economy is supported at this time. We all need to do our bit to ensure that our economy receives the necessary liquidity.
Simone Cooper, Head of Business Banking at Standard Bank Group, shared this advice with consumers, “Take this opportunity to revisit your spending and budget, if there is any breathing room use it to cover your debt, build up an emergency fund or to support a cause or small businesses in these difficult times,” says. At the end of the day, we are all in this together. If we can keep businesses going, we can try to limit the extent of damage to the economy and this benefits everyone.”
Cooper strongly encourages individuals and business owners who find themselves in financial difficulty to use the latest rate cut as an opportunity to manage cash flow and financial responsibilities. Speak to your existing debtors and engage with them around potential payment holidays. For business owners, this could be the difference between your business staying open for business or having to shut down. If you can negotiate some payment relief, this opens cash flow and allows for operational costs to be covered.
Customers who are in financial distress should contact the bank as soon as possible. The sooner the bank is informed, the sooner both parties can find a workable solution to address or resolve issues of financial distress. It is not in Standard Bank’s interest to see a business fail, or a home lost. It is in both parties’ interest to find a workable solution. We do urge customers to contact the bank should they experience difficulties.