Employment and Labour Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi confirmed on Wednesday that R23 million of R104 million received by Productivity SA had already been disbursed to various small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
This comes after Moloi announced that the unemployment insurance fund (UIF) had provided R104 million to the institution in order to support 6,000 SMEs to improve productivity to preserve and create jobs.
Productivity SA is an entity of the department of employment and labour.
Speaking during the institution’s launch of its business turnaround and recovery programme, the deputy minister said the programme will provide support to enterprises facing economic distress and initiatives or schemes aimed at minimising the retrenchments of employees or preventing employees.
“The scheme may provide for turnaround strategies, layoffs, restraining or alternative employment opportunities,” she said.
Moloi said Productivity SA was targeting to turnaround no less than 174 companies with the funds via its programme.
It was also announced by the deputy minister that the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) would be extended until mid-August, mainly for sectors which have not yet reopened.
“Following due diligence and consultation with the UIF actuaries, and in line with the president’s decision to extend the life of the [national state of disaster in terms of the] Disaster Management Act until August 15, we have taken the decision to similarly extend the Covid-19 Ters benefit until August 15, 2020.”
In other news, approximately three million people in the country lost their jobs between February and April as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM).
The majority accounted to women, which saw two million jobs lost in the process.
The study shows that employment levels declined by 18% between February and April and vulnerable groups were worse affected.
About 17 million people were employed in February 2020, but by April 2020 it had dropped to 14 million.
In June, Stats South Africa’s (Stats SA) announced that the unemployment rate in the country stood at 30.1%, which is the highest rate ever recorded.
Stats SA said the number of unemployed people increased to 7.1 million in the first quarter, however, this was before the Covid-19 lockdown which came into place in March.
“The number of employed persons decreased by 38,000 to 16.4 million and the number of unemployed persons increased by 344,000 to 7.1 million in the first quarter.
Elsewhere, South Africa’s gross domestic product decreased by 2% in the first quarter of 2020, thus continuing the country’s recessionary trend, which followed the economy shrinking by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2019.