Solidarity Fund to assist the vulnerable

Monday, March 23, 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the establishment of a fund that will aid in the combat of the Coronavirus.

“Following consultation with social partners, we have set up a Solidarity Fund, which South African businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to,” said President Ramaphosa.

In a televised address to the nation on Monday night, President Ramaphosa said the fund, which will be chaired by renowned businesswoman Gloria Serobe, will focus on efforts to combat the spread of the virus.

It will also aid in tracking the spread and, care for those who are ill. It will also support those whose lives are disrupted.

The fund which is the first phase of the economic response to the virus, will complement what is being done in the public sector .

The fund, he said will account fully for every cent contributed and will also boast a board of eminent South Africans to ensure proper governance.

“To get things moving, Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period.   We will be spending money to save lives and to support the economy,” said the President.

The fund will be administered by a team of people drawn from financial institutions, accounting firms and government.

Contributions can be made on the fund’s website

The President applauded the  commitment made in this time of crisis by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families following the contribution of  R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile the President reemphasised the call to citizens not to stockpile any items.

In addition a safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown.

More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place.

Other measures

The President also said that old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 -31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 01 April 2020.

This as to alleviate congestion at payment points.

All channels for access will remain open including ATMs, retail point of sale devices, Post Offices and cash pay points.

“Secondly, we are going to support people whose livelihoods will be affected. We are in consultation on a proposal for a special dispensation for companies that are in distress because of COVID-19,” said the President.

Through this proposal, employees will receive wage payment through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, which will enable companies to pay employees directly during this period and avoid retrenchment.

In addition, any employee who falls ill through exposure at their workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund.

Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.

“We have met with all the major banks and expect that most banks will put measures in place within the next few days. Many large companies that are currently closed have accepted their responsibility to pay workers affected.”

The President also called on larger businesses in particular to take care of their workers during this period.

Using the tax system, we will provide a tax subsidy of up to R500 per month for the next four months for those private sector employees earning below R6500 under the Employment Tax Incentive.

Old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 1 April 2020.

This he said, will help over 4 million workers. –

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