It’s April 2020 and the World is currently in lockdown amidst panic and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is our reality right now and it is weighted with challenges spanning global communities and economies. At the heart of it, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is leading and coordinating international efforts to tackle the pandemic head on and offer various relief measures.
On a large scale, funds are being directed towards the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan which includes:
- Methods of tracking and understanding the spread of the virus
- Care for patients
- Purchasing of essential supplies for frontline workers
- Offering guidance for the General public
- Working on a vaccine and treatments
Focusing on South Africa, several relief and interim measures have been established to curb the effects of the Corona virus on our already fragile economy. Relief is currently focused on the following sectors:
This comprises the Debt Relief Fund and the Business Growth/Resilience Facility which aim to soften the effects of economic strain. To be considered eligible, businesses must prove the direct and/or potential impact of the COVID-19 virus on business operations. SMMEs that are involved in supply value-chains that remain in demand during the pandemic, may apply to remain operational and receive assistance.
- Hospitality and Tourism
R200 million has been made available by the Department of Tourism to support SMMEs in this sector, with preference given to those in rural areas, owned by women or young people and those with disabilities. Large industries should look to the UIF schemes.
R12 million has been directed to support research and R30 million towards interventions to combat the pandemic.
- Trade and Industry
More than R3 billion has been packaged to assist with funding of vulnerable businesses and those that are considered vital during the pandemic. This is for South African owned businesses only.
- Agriculture and Food
R1.2 billion has been compiled by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to ensure sustainable food production and a further R100 million has been made available to assist farmers in distress.
- Black Entrepreneurs
The National Empowerment Fund has created R200 million in loans for black entrepreneurs to manufacture and supply medical products that support the efforts to combat the pandemic.
- Labour and Employment (assistance via the UIF scheme)
A temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme has been put in place for Employers who are unable to pay full salaries of workers. This will be handled through the companies, sectoral associations and bargaining councils.
- Retail (exemptions and relief made to qualifying retail tenants)
A Block Exemption for the Retail Property Sector exempts a category of agreements between certain retail property tenants and landlords. This is relevant to payment holidays/rental discounts, limitations on the eviction of tenants and suspension or adjustment to lease agreements.
- Solidarity Fund (to assist South Africans affected by the outbreak)
This fund is open to all members, in RSA and internationally, to contribute towards and focus on alleviating suffering and distress caused by the pandemic in general.
It is important to familiarise yourself with the various relief and/or assistance options offered during these unprecedented times. If you need help with this, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.