Tue, 01 Dec 2020

The Covid-19 UIF Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme, which has paid out nearly R53 billion to over 4.7 million workers, will ventually have to come to an end, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The president on Wednesday addressed the nation on developments on the Covid-19 response. The National State of Disaster has been extended by another month to .

"As the economy starts to recover, many of the measures in the relief package are steadily being wound down. We are trying - within our limited resources - to ensure this is a gradual transition," said Ramaphosa.

He said that government recognises some industries are still not able to operate fully - and that it would take time for many jobs to return. This is why government extended the Special Covid-19 Grant for a further three months, until January 2021. The special grant supports around six million people.

Government had also extended the TERS relief by another month to 15 October, 2020.

"These relief measures were necessary to protect those who are most vulnerable in a time of great distress, but they will have to come to an end," he said.

The next step is to ensure a robust economic recovery and limit job losses -government will do this by enabling all parts of the economy to return to full operation, as quickly and safely as possible.

As part of the transition to a fully operational economy, Ramaphosa said the country's alert Level 1 regulations will be amended and normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retailers will be reinstituted.

South Africa's retail industry has been battered by months of the lockdown, when the sale of alcohol was banned with the industry saying that the first nine-week ban the country had during the hard lockdown had resulted in more than 118 000 job losses in the sector. Retailers have been allowed to sell alcohol on a restricted basis from Monday to Friday until 5pm.

READ | Brace for 200 000 more job losses if SA movs back to lockdown level 3 - business lobby

Earlier this week Busines for South Africa, representing the majority of SA businesses partnering in their response to Covid-19, warned that a move to lockdown level 3 would result in 200 000 more job losses.

The country shed 2.2 million jobs during the second quarter - when a hard lockdown was implemented for five weeks. Economic activity was brought to a halt with GDP contracting by 51.2%, quarter on quarter, on an annualised basis.

B4SA projects the economy to contract by 9.3% this year - if all provinces remain on lockdown level 1.

Source: News24

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