July 26, 2021

Gov’t to Assist Businesses Affected by Looting

Businesses affected by the violence and looting in Gauteng and KZN will receive government assistance.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest national address on Sunday, 25 July 2021. This is in response to the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng being hit by planned and coordinated acts of violence just over two weeks ago, leading to the loss of more than 300 lives, the looting of shops, warehouses and factories, the damage to critical infrastructure, and disruption of the country’s economy.

“We have a duty to support those affected by this violence, and ensure that it never happens again. We have increased the deployment of SAPS and SANDF personnel,” he added, “We have maintained this deployment in areas regarded as potential hotspots, as well as key economic and government infrastructure, shopping centres, warehouses and factories. Security forces are also responsible for keeping critical supply routes open and safeguarding the transport of goods.

“Through these measures, we have been able to restore order in affected areas and to return the ports, freight rail network and road transport to full operational capacity.”

Government to Assist Businesses in Rebuilding and Give R400 million to Relief Funds

One of the measures the government has taken is to contribute R400 million to the Humanitarian Crisis Relief Fund established by the Solidarity Fund. This will assist with the immediate needs of affected communities.

“We are also implementing measures to help businesses to rebuild,”Ramaphosa added. “The most immediate need is to ensure that those businesses that were damaged or looted are able to rebuild and reopen as quickly as possible.”

To this effect, the state-owned insurance company, SASRIA will provide cover against incidents of public violence, strikes, riots and unrest to all insured businesses that have been affected.

“SASRIA has committed to expedite the payment of all valid claims and is working together with private insurers to ensure that assessments are completed without delay,” Ramaphosa said, “Government will ensure that SASRIA is able to honour all of its obligations and will provide whatever support is necessary in this regard.”

For those uninsured businesses that were victims of the violence – formal or informal, small or medium-sized, and many of whom are unable to rebuild on their own – the government has committed to assist them, too. This they will do with funding dedicated solely for this purpose.

“We will soon announce a mechanism for these businesses to apply for support,” President Ramaphosa said, adding that they will be reprioritising funding for SMMEs affected by the pandemic through a once-off business survival funding mechanism. “We are also working with large businesses to determine their contribution to the support of SMMEs, job creation and eradication of hunger and poverty.”

TERS, UIF and Employment Tax Assistance

As per the last national address, the COVID-19 TERS scheme has been extended for those sectors which were affected by Alert Level 4 restrictions during the past 28 days. Applications for this period are still open, and the UIF will facilitate payments as quickly as possible.

“Most importantly, the UIF will provide income support to all those employees who have lost jobs as a result of the recent unrest,” Ramaphosa said, “This will ensure that jobs are protected and that workers can continue to earn an income as those businesses take time to rebuild.”

Although TERS has provided crucial support, the president admitted that more is needed if businesses are to recover. To this end, the government will be expanding the Employment Tax Incentive for 4 months to include any employee earning below R6 500, and to increase the incentive amount by up to R750 per month.

“This will encourage employers to hire and retain employees, especially those in the retail and hospitality sectors which have been worst affected.”

PAYE Taxes Deferred for 3 Months to Assist with Economic Recovery

PAYE taxes will be deferred for up to 3 months to provide businesses with additional cash flow, with an automatic deferral of 35 per cent of PAYE liabilities for employers with revenue below R100 million. The payment of excise taxes by the alcohol sector will also be deferred for 3 months.

“These interventions are designed to extend as much relief as possible to individuals and businesses that are in need of support, without compromising our fiscal sustainability,” Ramaphosa said.

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