Thursday, 12 November 2020

Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa is determined to see every part of the economy return to full operation as government works towards recovery from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing the nation on the country’s COVID-19 status on Wednesday, President Ramaphosa announced the amendment of alert level 1 regulations to restore the normal trading hours for the sale of alcohol at retail outlets.

“We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate,” he told the nation, in addition.

The President’s relaxation of travel restriction would be in line with rapid testing and strict monitoring intended to limit the spread of the infection through importation by those who will be travelling to South Africa.

“We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

According to the President, government is currently pursuing a few priorities with the highest impact and ensuring that we deliver on these changes.

Amendments gazetted

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, designated under section 3 of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002) has in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002 issued and gazetted amendments to directions relating to the partial re-opening of borders and sale as well as dispensing of liquor.

The amendments will give impetus to the transition from relief to recovery by allowing for more economic activity as guided by the national economic reconstruction plan.

Dlamini Zuma has called on citizens to observe all the necessary COVID-19 health protocols and the remaining restrictions to avert possible resurgence.

Infrastructure

Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa said government’s infrastructure projects continue to gather pace, with backing from the private sector and development institutions.

Programmes supported through the Presidential Employment Stimulus have already started, and recruitment for others has begun such as recruitment of teacher and school assistants, which opened applications this week.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the third South Africa Investment Conference.

The President said that this is an important indicator of the country’s continued value as an investment destination for both local and foreign investors.

“We will continue to drive progress on the reconstruction and recovery plan, including through the implementation of structural reforms to shift our economic trajectory.”

“Through our actions now we can ensure that we remain on the path to recovery,” he stressed.

Relief packages

Government’s mission has been to both save lives and protect livelihoods, President Ramaphosa said.

“That is why in April we introduced a massive economic and social relief package to limit the effects of the pandemic on companies, workers, households and communities,” he said.

He believes the intervention was essential to keep businesses afloat, protect jobs and prevent millions of people from going hungry.

However, the country is now turning its focus on emergency measures towards economic reconstruction through various interventions. “We are shifting from relief to recovery,” he said.

According to the President, many relief measures are steadily winding down.

“We recognise that some industries are still not able to operate fully and that it will take some time for many jobs to return.”

It is for this reason the Special COVID-19 Grant has been extended for a further three months, until January 2021.

“This will provide much-needed income to around 6 million people who are unemployed and do not receive any other form of government grant.”

UIF TERS 

The President also announced that the COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefit scheme would be extended by another month.

“Discussions continue with our social partners on support for businesses in distress going forward, mindful of the need to ensure that the UIF has sufficient funds to meet the anticipated rise in unemployment claims.”

The Statesman said the scheme has already paid out nearly R53 billion to over 4.7 million workers.

“The relief package has laid the foundation for a robust economic recovery, limiting job losses and keeping afloat many businesses that would otherwise have been forced to close.”

The President is looking forward to a rapid and sustained economic recovery.

“We are therefore working to enable all parts of the economy to return to full operation as quickly and as safely as possible.” he added.