Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Pretoria: Government will direct R50 billion towards relieving the plight of South Africans who are most affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) by temporarily increasing the child support grant for six months.
“This means that child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May and from June to October they will receive an additional R500 each month,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Addressing the nation on Tuesday evening on additional economic and social relief measures that form part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President said all other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months.
“Poverty and food insecurity have in recent weeks deepened dramatically as the country deals with the pandemic. To reach the most vulnerable families in the country, we have decided on a temporary six-month Coronavirus grant,” the President said.
In addition, a special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month for the next 6 months will be paid to individuals who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grant or Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payment.
The Department of Social Development will issue the requirements needed to access and apply for this funding.
Increased efforts for food assistance
“We have recognised that the food distribution capacity of government is not adequate to meet the huge need that has arisen since the start of the epidemic.
“The South African Social Security Agency – SASSA – will within days implement a technology-based solution to roll out food assistance at scale through vouchers and cash transfers to ensure that help reaches those who need it faster and more efficiently,” the President said.
Moreover, the Department of Social Development has partnered with the Solidarity Fund, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations to distribute 250 000 food parcels across the country over the next two weeks.
The President said government was deeply disturbed by reports of unscrupulous people abusing the distribution of food and other assistance for corrupt ends.
“We will not hesitate to ensure that those involved in such activities face the full might of the law,” President Ramaphosa said.
An additional funding of R20 billion will 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 President said the nation-wide lockdown has had a negative impact on the revenue of municipalities at a time when the demands on them are increasing.
Protection of jobs
Government will set aside an additional R100 billion for protection of jobs and to create jobs.
“While there are several interventions that already exist within government to deal with the extremely high unemployment such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and the community works programme, these are not enough. The Coronavirus crisis will lead to many people losing their jobs,” the President said.
Since the declaration of a state of national disaster over a month ago, government has put in place a range of measures to support workers’ wages and assist companies in distress.
“By the end of Tuesday, the UIF’s special COVID-19 benefit has paid out R1.6-billion, assisting over 37 000 companies and 600 000 workers. Forty-billion rand has been set aside for income support payments for workers whose employers are not able to pay their wages,” the President said.
Government continues to provide assistance – in the form of loans, grants and debt restructuring – to Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs), spaza shop owners and other informal businesses.
The value of this assistance to date is over R100 million.
An additional amount of R2 billion will be made available to assist Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and spaza shop owners and other small businesses.
Government to ease lockdown regulations
Meanwhile, Cabinet has resolved to gradually lift the restrictions on economic activity, guided by the best available scientific evidence.
“We will follow a risk-adjusted approach to the return of economic activity, balancing the continued need to limit the spread of the Coronavirus with the need to get people back to work. As we do so, we remain firm in our resolve to contain the transmission of the virus,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President will on Thursday address the nation on the measures that will be taken beyond the nationwide lockdown to re-open the economy.
“We will therefore need to act with agility and flexibility in the weeks and months ahead, and respond to the situation as it develops. This crisis will not last forever, and the day will come when these measures are no longer needed. Until then, however, we must ensure that all of our people receive adequate support,” he said.
The President said the impact of the Coronavirus requires an extraordinary Coronavirus budget – of around R500 billion – to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic.
“This will include the reprioritisation of around R130 billion within the current budget. The rest of the funds will be raised from both local sources, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and from global partners and international finance institutions. The scale of this emergency relief programme is historic.
“It demonstrates that we will not spare any effort, or any expense, in our determination to support our people and protect them from harm.” he said.