Despite economic strain, lockdown is for the best says business community
On Monday, Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national shutdown, to start at midnight tomorrow, until April 16. Only public and private essential services providers and their staff would be allowed to operate.
Melanie Veness, chief executive of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business, said the economic impact on business would be severe, but the country did not have a choice.
“As the president said, ‘the cost of not acting now would be far greater’,” she said.
Veness said what would be essential was the ability to access the various forms of assistance quickly.
“Hopefully there will be some clarity soon as to how to access support, and that processes will be streamlined and not bogged down by inefficiency and/or red tape. It is encouraging to hear that private individuals and institutions have stepped up to partner with the government to alleviate some of the economic pressure,” said Veness.
Ladysmith was recently brought to a standstill by protesters who were calling for the mayor of Alfred Duma Municipality, Vincent Madlala, to step down. Jennifer Wallace, from the Ladysmith Business Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the national shutdown would further affect businesses in the area, but also agreed it was the best decision for the health of all citizens.
“The president had no choice. Unfortunately, trying to find a balance between health and economics in the middle of a pandemic is not an easy task,” said Wallace.
Durban economist Professor Bonke Dumisa warned that many would be negatively affected by this 21-day national shutdown.
He was, however, optimistic that we are likely to have a petrol price cut of R1.49 per litre and a diesel price cut of R1.22 per litre, which already takes into consideration the 25c per litre fuel levy that comes into effect on April 1.