Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an extraordinary R500 billion support package to stimulate the economy and protect millions of South Africans from hunger and social distress during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He was addressing the nation on additional economic and social relief measures as part of the national response to Covid-19, with a further address promised for Thursday at which South Africans can expect to hear more about measures beyond the 35-day lockdown.
Ramaphosa said a phased approach would be used to end the lockdown as balance was needed to prevent a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease.
The economic response to the national disaster could be divided into three phases, Ramaphosa said.
The first, would be measures to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on business and individuals; secondly to stabilise the economy with a massive social relief and economic support package, and finally, to drive the economy as the country emerges from this disaster.
A priority was to provide relief for hunger and social distress which have deepened dramatically in communities countrywide as a result of lockdown.
Measures include an increase in child support grants of an additional R300 next month and R500 per month from June to October.
All other grant beneficiaries will receive an additional R250 monthly, while a special coronavirus grant of R350 per month would go to those who are unemployed and do not receive any other form of grant or UIF payment.
He said government recognised that its capacity for food distribution had not met the huge demand in recent weeks, and the Department of Social Development, working with NGOs and community organisations would distribute 250 000 food parcels in the next fortnight.
Ramaphosa said the R500bn package directed to fighting the pandemic, was made up of R130bn from the current budget with the balance to be raised from local sources as well as international partners and finance institutions.
Because the coronavirus pandemic had led to the loss of jobs, an additional R100bn was being set aside to protect jobs, with R40bn for income support payments for those whose employers could not pay their wages.
He said an additional R2bn was going to assist SMEs and spaza shop owners.
Various other support measures would assist artists, sportsmen and women, technical personnel, waste pickers and participants in public works programmes.
A R200bn loan guarantee scheme would assist enterprises with operational costs including salaries, rent and payment of suppliers, and numerous other schemes and tax relief were announced to assist business, details of which would be fleshed out by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
Ramaphosa once again thanked the public for their fortitude and sacrifice, and said the lockdown, despite its devastating impact on the economy, had been the necessary response and South Africa would not spare any effort or expense to support and protect its people from harm.
By Staff Reporter