South Africa’s R350 Covid-19 grant is to be extended for three months, President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday as he unveiled the government’s economic recovery plan from the Covid-19 pandemic.
He also committed to end loadshedding in the next two years, fix the Central railway line in Cape Town and strengthen Law Enforcement agencies to fight crime and corruption.
Speaking to a joint sitting of Parliament, Ramaphosa said that the R350 grant was necessary: “As ... recovery measures are being rolled out, we need to do everything in our means to provide support to those in society who continue to face hunger and distress. We will therefore be extending the Special Covid-19 Grant by a further three months,” he said.
“This will maintain a temporary expansion of social protection and allow the labour market sufficient time to recover,” said the president.
Ramaphosa said the damage to the country is “colossal”.
The recovery plan had five main focus points:
1. Create jobs
2. Focus on small businesses and strengthen medium and large businesses
3. Accelerate economic reforms and growth
4. To fight crime and corruption
5. Improve the capability of the state
“Covid-19 has infected 38 million people around the world, and is responsible for the deaths of more than a million people. The pandemic will not be over soon. The pandemic continues to cause severe damage to the global economy.
“South Africa has over 700 000 confirmed cases of Covid-19. 90% of those infected have recovered.”
Ramaphosa said that more than 2 million people lost their jobs in the second quarter this year: “Our economy has contracted sharply. Businesses have closed and jobs have been lost.”
He said SA’s economic relief package of R500 billion was the biggest on the continent.
“The special Covid-19 grant and top up of existing grants of close to R40 billion has been provided to more than 17 million South Africans.
“More than 960 000 companies have benefited from the UIF wage support scheme and grants and loans provided from various government departments.”
In addition the Reserve Bank cut rates to the lowest in 50 years, Ramaphosa said that social partners have agreed to support a massive “buy local” campaign for this festive season.
Government is set to create 300 000 opportunities for young people as school assistants.
More than 60 000 jobs will be created for maintenance and construction of municipal infrastructure and rural roads, while an additional 6000 community health workers and nursing assistants will be deployed “as we proceed with the implementation of National Health Insurance”.