President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the extension of the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) in effort to support people who have been affected by lockdown restrictions.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday night, where he announced the extension of South Africa’s adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown for another 14 days.
Ters scheme extended
The President said following negotiations between the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and social partners, it was decided to extend the Ters scheme for sectors affected by the lockdown measures.
“On the basis of these discussions, the UIF has decided that the Covid-19 Ters scheme should be extended to sectors that are affected by adjusted Level 4 restrictions.
“The details of the extension will be published shortly following the finalisation of the full scheme, which will include further details on who is eligible for this support,” he said.
According to Ramaphosa, the Ters scheme has provided more than R60 billion to protect the jobs of 5.5 million workers.
Licences and permits
Meanwhile in addition, Cabinet has decided that all business licences and permits that expired between March 2020 and June 2021 will remain valid until 31 December 2022.
“New business licences or permits that are issued from 1 July will also be valid until 31 December 2022, and no license fee will be payable. This will provide some relief to small businesses.”
This is after National Liquor Traders (NTL) had written to the President seeking a two-year moratorium on liquor licence renewals.
Alcohol ban remains in place
The sale of alcohol remains prohibited under Level 4.
Ramaphosa said it’s proven the restrictions on alcohol sales “reduce the number of admission at hospitals and emergency rooms with alcohol-related trauma”.
Moreover, he says reducing alcohol alcohol-related trauma such as motor vehicle accidents and violent attacks, “frees up much-needed capacity in our health facilities to deal with Covid-19 cases”.
“Alcohol abuse is also associated with gatherings and non-adherence to public health regulations. At the same time, we know and recognise the vital contribution of the alcohol industry to our economy”, he said.
After the nation address, NTL and the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) issued a joined statement expressing their disappointment on the ban alcohol sales.
“The decision seems to confirm media reports that the government had intended to ban alcohol sales for 21 days, but opted to announce a 14-day ban to avoid criticism from business and the general public,” they said.
According to Salba and NTL, the alcohol industry has lost an estimated amount of R6.1 billion in retail sales revenue as a result of the 14-day ban, while government has lost an estimated R3.6 billion in direct tax revenue – excluding excise tax.
Both organisations have warned the latest ban could see the government lose a further R1.5 billion in excise tax income.
“The 14-day ban put an estimated 4,604 jobs at risk, bringing the total jobs at risk for all bans to date to 233,547 jobs, which is equivalent to 1.49% of the national total for formal and informal employment for 2020.”