South Africa: MEC David Maynier On Support to Businesses and the Economy in the Western Cape During COVID-19 Lockdown

press release

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma published the lockdown regulations, outlining how people and businesses in the Western Cape need to adjust to stop the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

We welcome these measures as a necessary means to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the Western Cape and we appreciate the broad support shown by the public in support of these measures. We also recognise that there will be a severe impact on businesses and the economy in the Western Cape. And so, we are working hard to support businesses, to back businesses and to save businesses, jobs and the economy in the Western Cape.

Since the Premier, Alan Winde, announced the establishment of the Joint Operations Centre, and workstreams to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, our economic workstream has been working on a number of priorities to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

Our strategy to support businesses in the Western Cape has three aspects:

Containment - gathering information from industries to understand their business needs and respond to their needs, and ensuring they're taking the necessary steps to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Adaptation - collating and sharing Frequently Asked Questions, guidelines and best practice on how businesses can adapt to the lockdown regulations and become resilient, and

Recovery - identifying actions that need to be taken to ensure businesses have the financial support they need now to get them through this crises, and the actions needed to drive economic recovery once the pandemic has been contained, e.g. tourism and investment campaigns.

Containment

In the last week we continued to hold consultations with representatives from business and industry such as those from Agriculture and Agri-processing, Textiles and Manufacturing, and the Services sector including Business Process Outsourcing. This is in addition to the consultations held the previous week with the Tourism and Shopping Mall and Retail sectors. In most cases, these engagements are now almost daily as we respond to sector's questions and concerns in the ever-changing economic environment.

For example, ahead of the upcoming lockdown our teams set up a bespoke virtual engagement for this morning where large retailers and property groups were able to meet with a representative from the South African Police Service to answer their questions regarding permitting and essential services.

Adaptation

We are also working hard to get further clarity from national government on the regulations for lockdown and how they impact on businesses and workers in the Western Cape. This information is being added daily to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are on our websites:

[www.supportbusiness.co.za%20]www.supportbusiness.co.za

www.westerncape.gov.za/coronavirus

In addition to this we send out regular communication to our business networks and our 'Covid-19 Content Centre for Business' has responded to over 300 queries from businesses and workers looking for support and advice so far. Any businesses who need assistance can email supportbusiness@wesgro.co.za.

Recovery

Finally, our teams are also seeking to get clarity from national government on the available financial relief packages they're putting in place for SMMEs, and we're then providing support and advice to businesses in need, especially those already in distress, so that they're able to access this financial support as quickly as possible. If you are a business in distress, please contact us immediately at supportbusiness@wesgro.co.za.

Our Provincial Treasury also stands ready to respond and is working with all provincial departments to reprioritise their budgets to meet immediate needs and support them in procurement and financial management challenges as they arise.

Yesterday, the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet approved a proposal by the Provincial Treasury to unlock emergency funding for the Coronavirus response, in terms of section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act (Act 6 of 2000).

This proposal allows for under-spending on the compensation of employees in the Departments of Health, Social Development and Local Government from the 2019/20 year, to be retained and re-prioritised towards addressing the Covid-19 crisis. In other departments, the under spending will be consolidated and redirected where most required. The proposal also allows for R208 million in funding, set aside for unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure, to be used for Covid-19 response. These funds will be used primarily for health, logistics and food supply.

Furthermore, we also received notice yesterday of the allocation of R53.2 million by National Treasury to the Western Cape Department of Health for the purpose of responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Western Cape remains fiscally stable and well managed, so is in the best possible position to respond as needed to the Covid-19 crises. We will continue to work closely with National Treasury and other provincial treasuries in this regard.

Advice for businesses providing essential goods and essential services

Please note that all businesses providing essential goods and essential services must provide each of their staff with a permit, in writing, in the prescribed form, for them to leave their residence and travel to work.

Advise your staff that they must carry this permit with them whenever they travel, together with a recent ID, so that they can show enforcement officers who may stop them while they are travelling.

Please encourage your staff to only use these permits when they are travelling to and from work, as the purpose of the lockdown is to reduce unnecessary movement so that we can stop the spread of Covid-19 infection. Unnecessary travel risks their lives and the lives of others.

Every single one of us is responsible for stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.

We will all have to pull together, and we will all have to work together, in the coming days, and weeks, and months because, in the end, it is up to all of us to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.

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