BUSINESS FOR SOUTH AFRICA COMMENTS ON THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS OF 13 MAY 2020
Business for South Africa (B4SA) welcomes the announcement last night by President Ramaphosa of the intention to ease the lockdown and reopen the economy. We are continuing to engage government to reiterate our call for the swift easing of economic restrictions accompanied by stringent health and hygiene measures in the workplace, public transport, public services and public spaces, and at all times – where practical – to limit the movement of people.
B4SA strongly supports the risk adjusted and evidence-based policy making which is informed by ever improving models created by health and economic experts. As Business for South Africa, we have been sharing our detailed risk, economic and health modelling with government and will continue to work with the state to improve our collective response.
As business, we recognise that the initial lock-down was successful in “flattening the curve”, slowing the rate of infection, and giving our public and private healthcare system a chance to rapidly increase the capacity to deal with Covid-19. Thanks to the strenuous efforts of medical and supply chain expert volunteers from business, support from the Solidarity Fund and many dedicated civil servants working in the National Department of Health, Presidency and National Treasury we have sourced many millions of pieces of PPE. These masks, gloves, ventilators and other equipment allow our frontline medical staff to prepare for the coming influx of Covid-19 patients. We commend and thank the many thousands of healthcare workers, business volunteers, NGOs and civil servants who, working together, have made this possible.
We share the President’s concern that the strict economic lockdown imperils the livelihood of millions of South Africans. Widespread hunger, despair and economic desperation are already a reality for millions. The lock-down restrictions have caused significant harm, particularly to small businesses, piece workers and the self-employed who have very few assets and savings that allow them to survive for any extended period of time. Likewise, whole sectors of the economy have seen revenues collapse with devastating consequences for workers, communities, and investors alike.
We welcome the President’s view that, however well intentioned, some regulations are inappropriate, or misaligned, to the risk-adjusted standard. We urge the swift amendment of these regulations, incorporating evidence-based input from business, to allow for maximum economic activity so that more goods and services can be produced commensurate with hygiene, as well as health and safety protocols. We urge that the economy prepare for an orderly, clear and swift transition through levels 3 and 2 to a functioning economy.
While we welcome the economic support from government it is clear that unless we can quickly restore people’s capacity to earn and business to function, not only will government revenue collapse, but mass job losses and business failures will become inevitable. Our fear is that law and order and the capacity to govern effectively or do business will be undermined in the face of widespread hunger, unemployment, and desperation. Only by restoring livelihoods can we retain the capacity to combat Covid-19.
All organisations and individuals must adapt to everyday life, as well as to the working practices of the health, safety, and hygiene protocols, required to combat Covid-19. We recognise the need to continue to strengthen our health defences in the face of the inevitable increase in Covid-19 cases, and protecting the most vulnerable in society, while returning the economy to full productivity on a responsible basis. In that context, we urge for comprehensive screening, testing, tracking and tracing to continue in order for decisions to be taken with full access to appropriate and relevant information.
For more information about Business for South Africa, please visit our website www.businessforsa.org
DTI ANNOUNCES AMENDMENTS TO E-COMMERCE REGULATIONS
Business for South Africa strongly welcomes the decision by Minister Ebrahim Patel and the Department of Trade and Industry to expand the list of goods which may be transacted through e-Commerce platforms during Alert Level 4 of the lockdown; and the protocols which must be observed by retailers, couriers or delivery services and customers in respect of goods transacted through e-Commerce.
We would also like to acknowledge the collaborative and open spirit of engagements that we have had with Minister Patel and his team.
To view the updated regulations, go to http://www.gpwonline.co.za/Gazettes/Gazettes/43321_14-5_TradeIndustryCompetition.pdf
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OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES ON COVID-19
All official government regulations and guidelines are available at https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines
Business for South Africa fully supports the decisive action taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the government to help mitigate the health, labour market and economic impacts of the coronavirus. As organised business, we are actively collaborating with government to use business resources and capacity to support public sector initiatives.
We have mobilised volunteer resources from across South Africa business bodies and organisations, member companies large and small, professional services firms as well as communication specialists, to form focused working groups that are driving a coordinated and proactive programme to mitigate the economic, social and health impacts of COVID-19 on South Africa.