SA consumer’s still not in the clear despite unchanged repo rate

23 September 2015

Today the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) governor Lesetja Kganyago announced that the repo rate will remain unchanged at 6% following a meeting held by the Monetary Policy Committee earlier today. This will come as great news to consumers already struggling to make ends meet.

Ian Wason, CEO of SA’s largest Debt Counselling company DebtBusters, advises now is the time for consumers to take advantage of Sarb’s decision to keep rates unchanged.

Wason says, “No change in the repo rate comes as a great relief, but consumers must not think they are in the clear just yet.”

An increase in living expenses will have an impact on consumers’ ability to service their debts. Increases in living expenses will only provide more pressure, as more consumers require most, if not all of their income to service their debt, leaving them with almost nothing to survive, let alone pay for living expenses. Consumers that are being squeezed by increasing food and electricity prices are more likely to take further credit in order to make ends meet. Many South Africans are in the habit of borrowing money through personal loans, microloans, payday loans and credit cards to tide them over.

Latest DebtBusters stats show that over 40% of payday loans and unsecured credit agreements (by value) are taken out by clients earning R20k p.m. or more, indicating that all South Africans are struggling to make ends meet, and not just those earning lower incomes.

“This comes as no surprise since the cost of servicing debt (as measured by the average interest rate) has increased 7-17% per annum for low and middle income earners, which shows the pressure these consumers are under. South Africans need to prepare themselves for the storm that’s coming and must find ways of cutting back on expenses and paying back debts so that they are not forced into opening other lines of credit to pay back loans that they already have. Those that are finding it difficult to meet their debt obligations, and are dependent on credit to pay for food, must seek help from an accredited debt counsellor, like DebtBusters. The best solution for these consumers is to restructure their credit agreements at better rates,” concludes Wason.