Today, the 21st of April 2020 and Day 25 of the National Lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on additional economic and social relief measures that form part of Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government is implementing a range of relief measures to support the most vulnerable South Africans during this time, and to respond to the impact of the lockdown on workers and businesses

The COVID-19 Social and Economic response will focus on:

  1. Relief of Hunger and Social Distress,
  2. Extraordinary budget for coronavirus relief,
  3. Support for companies and workers and
  4. Phased reopening of the economy.

R50 billion will be directed in relieving the plight of those who are most desperately affected by the coronavirus.

  1. Child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May and from June to October they will receive an additional R500 each month.
  2. Other grant beneficiaries (pension, disability, foster care) will receive an extra R250 per month for the next 6 months.
  3. Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 per month will be paid to the unemployed.

The Department of Social Development will issue the requirements needed to access and apply for this funding. SASSA will also implement an online solution to roll out food assistance at scale through shopping vouchers and cash transfers to ensure that help reaches those who need it faster and more efficiently. Furthermore, 250,000 households will receive food parcels across the country over the next two weeks.

R130 billion will be reprioritised within the current budget. An amount of R20 billion will be directed to addressing government efforts to address the pandemic. Additional expenditure will be towards personal protective equipment for health workers, community screening, an increase in testing capacity, additional beds in field hospitals, ventilators, medicine and staffing. Additional funding of R20 billion will therefore be made available to municipalities for the provision of emergency water supply, increased sanitisation of public transport and facilities, and providing food and shelter for the homeless.

“The coronavirus crisis will lead to many people losing their jobs” Ramaphosa said. An additional R100 billion will be set aside for protection of jobs and to create jobs. R40 billion has been set aside for income support payments for workers whose employers are not able to pay their wages. An additional amount of R2 billion will be made available to assist SMEs and spaza shop owners and other small businesses. Government is also working on additional support measures for vulnerable and affected sectors like the taxi industry.

The Minister of Finance will provide further details on the above and other tax-related announcements soon.

The President said “if we end the lockdown too soon or too abruptly, we risk a massive and uncontrollable resurgence of the disease”. Therefore government will follow a phased approach guided by scientific evidence to gradually lift the restrictions on economic activity.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa will address the nation on the measures that will be taken beyond the nationwide lockdown to re-open the economy. “This crisis will not last forever, and the day will come when these measures are no longer needed.” he added.

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