Ramaphosa Announces R500bn Social Support Package



President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced new measures that have been taken to alleviate the social and economic distress caused by the national lockdown to tackle Covid-19.



President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced new measures that have been taken to alleviate the social and economic distress caused by the national lockdown to tackle Covid-19..

Excerpts from the President's speech:

"Government is implementing a range of relief measures to support the most vulnerable South Africans during this difficult time, and to respond to the impact of the lockdown on workers and businesses".

"South Africa has never had to deal with a public health emergency on the scale of the coronavirus pandemic. Extraordinary funding measures totalling R500bn are being channelled into healthcare, vital municipal services & social relief".

Another significant area that requires massive additional expenditure is the relief of hunger and social distress in our communities across the country.

While we have put in place measures to protect the wages of workers in the formal economy and have extended support to small, medium and micro-sized businesses, millions of South Africans in the informal economy and those without employment are struggling to survive.

Poverty and food insecurity have deepened dramatically in the course of just a few weeks.

To reach the most vulnerable families in the country, we have decided on a temporary 6-month Coronavirus grant.

We will direct R50 billion towards relieving the plight of those who are most desperately affected by the coronavirus.

This means that child support grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R300 in May and from June to October they will receive an additional R500 each month.

All other grant beneficiaries will receive an extra R250 per month for the next six months.

In addition, a special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant of R350 a month for the next 6 months will be paid to individuals who are currently unemployed and do not receive any other form of social grant or UIF payment.

The Department of Social Development will issue the requirements needed to access and apply for this funding.

We have recognised that the food distribution capacity of government is not adequate to meet the huge need that has arisen since the start of the epidemic.

The South African Social Security Agency – SASSA – will within days implement a technology-based solution to roll out food assistance at scale through vouchers and cash transfers to ensure that help reaches those who need it faster and more efficiently.

In addition, to fill the immediate need, the Department of Social Development has partnered with the Solidarity Fund, NGOs and community-based organisations to distribute 250,000 food parcels across the country over the next two weeks.

We are deeply disturbed by reports of unscrupulous people abusing the distribution of food and other assistance for corrupt ends.

We will not hesitate to ensure that those involved in such activities face the full might of the law.

While there are several interventions that already exist within government to deal with the extremely high unemployment such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and the community works programme, these are not enough.

The coronavirus crisis will lead to many people losing their jobs.

An additional R100 billion will be set aside for protection of jobs and to create jobs.

Since the declaration of a state of national disaster over a month ago, government has put in place a range of measures to support workers’ wages and assist companies in distress.

By the end of today, the UIF’s special COVID-19 benefit has paid out R1.6-billion, assisting over 37,000 companies and 600,00 workers.

R40 billion has been set aside for income support payments for workers whose employers are not able to pay their wages.

We continue to provide assistance – in the form of loans, grants and debt restructuring – to SMMEs, spaza shop owners and other informal businesses.

The value of this assistance to date is over R100 million.

An additional amount of R2 billion will be made available to assist SMEs and spaza shop owners and other small businesses.