Discontinued Covid-19 subsidy recipients left in limbo
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JOHANNESBURG – Millions of employees and businesses that benefited from the government’s Covid-19 subsidy were left in a limbo after news emerged that the Department of Employment and Labour planned to discontinue the benefit.
Business For South Africa (B4SA) said the government would terminate the wage protection scheme that has saved millions of jobs impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The business lobby group said it learned that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) would not extend benefit payments beyond mid-September.
B4SA said the NCCC decided to not extend the Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) benefit any further.
B4SA said the decision would have negative implications for employers and employees and the economy as a whole.
It said there were still significant numbers of employees who were unable to return to work on a full time basis on account of the current government restrictions under the State of Disaster.
Social partners and the UIF have been involved in extensive investigations regarding the affordability of extending the benefits at the suggestion of Nedlac and the government.
B4SA in a statement said the investigations indicated that there were sufficient liquid funds available in the UIF to maintain benefits until the end of December.
“As at Thursday evening there was a consensus between the social partners and the UIF that every effort would be made to ensure that this is what would happen,” it said.
“The social partners investigations found that the UIF has a significant amount of illiquid investments amounting to R59 billion. It is surprising that the fund, which is a repository of employer and employee contributions, has made such investment decisions.”
Ters payments have enabled employers in distress to provide payments to employees via the UIF and have paid more than R51bn for wage protection through the UIF.
The scheme has already been extended beyond its initial three months, when it was introduced in March. The UIF is accepting new Ters applications for the period between July and September 15, and is doing a re-run of outstanding payments for April, May and June.
In tabling his economic recovery plan, President Cyril Ramaphosa had committed that the benefit would be available until the end of the State of Disaster, which has been extended to November 15.