Media Statement on President Ramaphosa’ s address
Friday 24 April 2020
The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), welcomes President Ramaphosa’ s approach in finding a balance between a continuous mitigation against the Covid 19 pandemic, and the need to look at and consider a phased, risk-adjusted programme of re-entry into the economy.
We acknowledge the President’s remarks that whilst we are fighting this pandemic, it is important to recognize the devastating effect that this pandemic is having on the SA economy. We are however not alone, as this is a global phenomenon. The USA authorities were reporting a few days ago that the US economy has now lost close to 26.5m jobs due to this pandemic. Business South Africa is also projecting that 1m job losses may be lost in South Africa due to the Covid 19 pandemic lock down. Our economy cannot afford a sustained lock down.
South Africa’s problems were compounded by three negative forces that have impacted the economy simultaneously; the technical recession, the Covid 19 lock down, and the downgrading of the SA sovereign to junk status.
Any one of these factors would have posed a significant challenge for the SA economy, its prospects for recovery, GDP growth, the deficit, unemployment, debt-to-GDP, the balance of payments and the exchange rate. To have all these negative forces coalescing at the same time, can only mean our challenges of solving for poverty, inequality and joblessness have become much more complex and intractable.
The efforts of the President in announcing the stimulus package must also be commended. Getting the economy to work in a safe environment will be critical as this alone should assist SA in finding the revenue to repay the massive amount of debt required to support the SA economy due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
We call on business to work with the President and his ministers to submit well thought-out plans on how to reopen the particular economic sectors, in a measured way whilst continuing to mitigate against this pandemic, as a non-negotiable.
SACCI urges business to take responsibility to work for and find the balance for both the public health risk, as well as the mitigation against an economic collapse. With diligence and rigour, we must ensure as business that the planned re-activation of the economy, does not contribute to worsening the pandemic. It is not an either, or. We have to do both.
We look forward to engaging the respective ministers as announced by the President, including other critical social partners in an effort to find solutions to our common problems.
The irony of this pandemic is that it has united SA in a manner that is unprecedented.
We should take this as an opportunity to build a cohesive and equitable society beyond this Covid 19 pandemic.
Contact: Alan Mukoki
Mobile: 082 551 1159