Coronavirus in SA: Durban mayor breaks down post-pandemic recovery plan
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Durban - Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has outlined a post Covid-19 economic recovery plan to help ailing businesses get back on their feet.
Kaunda said Durban’s economy, which contributed about 10% to the country’s GDP, was expected to decline by 4 to 6% as a result of the pandemic.
He said hotels and restaurants were at risk of losing R4billion in revenue, and that the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre had postponed over 85 events from March until June, losing R64million in revenue, while Ushaka Marine World would lose R50m in the same period.
Kaunda said due to the postponement of major events such as the Tourism Indaba, Comrades Marathon and Vodacom Durban July, the city had lost billions in revenue.
His plan would supplement the R500bn economic recovery plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week. "The city will be driving a co-ordinated plan to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the local tourism and industrial economy," Kaunda said.
"Our plan entails linking affected industry players with the various funds announced by the national government, including the R200m Tourism Relief Fund and the Solidarity Fund.
"We will also ensure that the municipality’s accommodation bookings will now be directed to small businesses like B&Bs. Our Durban film office will now provide incentives for production houses to shoot their films in Durban,” he said.
Kaunda said B&Bs could apply to pay residential rates for a limited period, while informal businesses would be provided with a six-month rental holiday.
New tourism stimulus packages would be implemented and the city would invest more in promoting Durban as a tourism destination
“To boost the rural, township and informal economy, which is at risk of shedding over 207000 jobs, we will identify, and assist, all informal enterprises that could not access the R2bn made available by the national government," he said.
“Since the outbreak, several investors have put on hold over R10bn in investment, and to unlock this investment, the city will capitalise on a lower interest rate window in 2020, and waive all development application fees until the end of the next financial year.
"We will also form partnerships with financial institutions, developers, built environment professionals, and construction companies to restart and accelerate the construction sector."
Opposition parties welcomed aspects of the recovery plan, with the DA raising concerns about household consumers being “left out” of it. DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said:“eThekwini has now confirmed that it will not be offering household consumers any water, electricity or rates relief and that interest will occur on arrears that accumulate during this time,"
IFP exco member Mdu Nkosi lauded the plan but warned the mayor to guard against corruption during the implementation phase. “It has become a norm to see something that looks good on paper fail (in its) implementation.
"There will be people who see this as an opportunity to enrich themselves. We also call the mayor to include the private sector in the plan... There must be an emphasis on rural and township businesses because we cannot assist only those in the city,” said Nkosi.