Measures to help SA weather the storm

Commander in Chief of the South African Armed Forces His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on government’s response on additional extraordinary measures to contain and combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS​
Commander in Chief of the South African Armed Forces His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the nation from the Union Buildings in Tshwane on government’s response on additional extraordinary measures to contain and combat the rapid spread of Coronavirus. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS​

President Cyril Ramaphosa last night announced measure to help South Africans cope with the crisis unleashed by Covid-19. 

Among them are a  pledge from the Rupert and Oppenheimer families to contribute R1bn each towards the fight against the coronavirus, tax concessions, assistance to  small and medium enterprises   and a Solidarity Fund. 

Ramaphosa who has held a string of meetings with business, politicians and religious leaders over the past two days, announced measures to assist businesses.

Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of less than R50m will be allowed to delay 20% of their pay-as-you-earn liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months.

“This intervention is expected to assist over 75,000 small and medium-term enterprises,”  Ramaphosa said.

The government is also exploring the temporary reduction of employer and employee contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and employer contributions to the Skill Development Fund.

The president also announced a relief fund of more than  R500m available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process.

The money is from the department of small business development.

The Industrial Development Corporation has also put a package together with the department of trade, industry and competition of more than R3bn  for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to  efforts to fight the virus and its economic impact.

The department of tourism has made an additional R200m available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.

The president further announced the setting up of a Solidarity Fund, to which all businesses and private individuals were urged to donate.

The fund, said Ramaphosa, will account fully for every cent donated and publish statements on its website.

“The fund will complement what we are doing in the public sector. It will be chaired by Ms Gloria Serobe,”  Ramaphosa said.

“Anyone can begin to deposit funds into this account acting in solidarity with South Africans. It will fully account for every cent contributed and publish details on its website.”

He lauded the Ruperts and Oppenheimers for their donation.

“We must applaud the commitment that has been made ... to support victims affected by the coronavirus,” he said. 

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