Boost for economy as Ramaphosa moves SA to level 1
Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa says the priority of his administration was now the economic recovery of the country, as he announced the movement of the country to lockdown level 1 on Wednesday night.
Ramaphosa pointed out that his cabinet was currently finalising the new Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan agreed with business and labour which will build on the R500 billion relief package he announced in April.
The new plan followed marathon discussions between social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on the need to urgently build the battered economy, restore growth and create jobs.
“Following several weeks of engagement, the social partners at Nedlac have made tremendous progress on an ambitious social compact for economic recovery.
’’This represents a historic milestone for our country, demonstrating what can be achieved when we unite to confront an urgent crisis,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said the finalised plans would be announced in the coming weeks.
He said while the economic damage caused by Covid-19 remained in place, more than 800 000 companies had benefited through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) wage support scheme and through the grants and loans provided by his administration during the pandemic.
“More than 4 million workers have received R42 billion in wage support, helping to protect these jobs even while companies were not able to operate.
’’This support has touched the lives of millions of South Africans, and has made a real difference to those in greatest need,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the tax relief measures received many companies had amounted to around R70-billion.
Ramaphosa said the government had also provided relief to more than 16 million financially distressed South Africans, with over R30-billion spent through the special Covid-19 grants and the top-up of existing grants, while interest rates had been reduced to the benefit of many South Africans and businesses.
“Adjustments have been made to the Loan Guarantee Scheme to make it easier for companies of any size to access credit at low interest rates, with repayments delayed for as much as twelve months.
’’We encourage all companies who have faced a disruption of their earnings to seek support from this scheme while the economy recovers,” he said.
Ramaphosa admitted, however, that it would take time for the country’s economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic, which resulted in massive job losses as some companies were either forced to downsize or close shop.
Ramaphosa said the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund had received over R3.1 billion in donations from around 15 000 individuals and 2 500 companies.
“It has, to date, allocated R2.4 billion to support key areas of our national coronavirus response.
“These include the purchase of testing equipment, medical supplies and personal protective equipment and the local manufacture of ventilators.
’’It extends to food relief for vulnerable households, vouchers for subsistence farmers, care for survivors of gender-based violence and a national Covid awareness campaign,” Ramaphosa said.