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By unknown | Nov 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

GILL Marcus starts her term as governor of the South African Reserve Bank today.

GILL Marcus starts her term as governor of the South African Reserve Bank today.

Marcus takes over at the helm at the SARB amid a growing debate among the ANC and its allies, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, about the direction of economic policy.

Below are some of the issues facing the new governor.

Inflation targeting: The ANC's labour and communist allies are pushing for inflation targeting to be abandoned, blaming it for higher interest rates that they say have hurt the poor.

Inflation picture: As Marcus takes over inflation is edging closer to the central bank's 3 to 6percent target and is expected to be within the band sustainably by the second quarter of 2010.

But price pressures are brewing.

The central bank has said plans for big electricity price rises are the main upside risk to the long-term outlook. State power firm Eskom wants to increase tariffs by 45percent annually for the next three years.

Unions and the communists have called for the SARB's mandate to include job creation and economic growth.

Marcus, who is seen as close to Cosatu, will have a tough balancing act trying to keep inflation within the band while not being seen as constraining growth.

Rand currency: To the concern of government and the central bank, the rand currency has gained about 25percent against the dollar this year, weighing on an already weak manufacturing sector, which is key to economic recovery.

SARB communication: Investors would like to see clearer signals from the central bank about monetary policy after a few recent surprise decisions from its rate-setting committee. - Reuters


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