R1.5 billion approved to support more than 120 businesses hit by July civil unrest, says Ebrahim Patel
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TRADE and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel yesterday said R1.5 billion had so far been approved for support to more than 120 businesses affected by the July civil unrest.
Patel said the unrest had resulted in damage to hundreds of businesses in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“As of today, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) has approved R1.5bn in direct support in 123 separate transactions,” the minister said.
“These transactions would be where a company or association or intermediary put forward an application for support.
“So when we count the number of physical sites or buildings that were affected, where we have now rendered support, it amounts to 320 business sites.”
The government’s R3.75bn economic rebuilding package is for the restoration of businesses adversely affected during the violent looting and unrest that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.
It is available in the form of term loans at zero interest, bridging finance, as well as the conversion of portions of selected facilities into grant
Patel said that officials from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) were working around the clock to fast-track the processing of applications to help businesses rebuild and sustain jobs.
The damage to businesses has been estimated at more than R30bn.
Earlier this month, the NEF and the Solidarity Fund established a R450 million SMME Support Programme for businesses that suffered losses.
NEF chief executive Philisiwe Mthethwa said that the relief would consist of a combination of zero-rated loans and grants.
“We call it a blended (support) because it is going to be a combination of a loan portion and grant portion.
“So we are going to blend the loan that we will be providing at a zero interest rate and the other portion is going to be coming in as a grant, Mthethwa said.
“We are obviously exceedingly grateful to our partners the Solidarity Fund Humanitarian Crisis Relief Funds committing a total of R150 million to allow for the grant portion to go to these businesses.”
Meanwhile, the SA Canegrowers welcomed the announcement that R85m in relief funding would be provided to 192 affected canegrowers.
In August, SA Canegrowers revealed that mills in KwaZulu-Natal had rejected 135 222 tons of damaged cane following the arson of sugarcane and disruption to milling activity during the unrest in July amounting to R84.5m in lost revenue.
A third of this cane, more than 38 000 tons, belonged to small-scale growers who were at risk of not recovering from losses of this magnitude.