President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined the government’s plan to boost the economy, create jobs and extend the Covid-19 relief grant in his economic recovery plan delivered to a joint sitting of parliament on Thursday.
This comes on the heels of a Stats SA report which revealed that SA shed 2.2 million jobs during the lockdown. It further revealed that the unemployment rate declined from 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 to 23.3% in the second quarter because fewer people were actively look for work during the lockdown.
In his address, the president unveiled an unemployment stimulus package which will be implemented immediately. He commended various government interventions, including the UIF wage relief for companies and employees whose incomes were affected by the lockdown, but admitted that more still needs to be done.
Here are five important takeaways from his address:
Ramaphosa said the government had, by the end of June, implemented 276 “catalytic projects” to help transform rural areas, townships and cities and, in turn, fast track investment. In addition, 50 “strategic integrated projects” and “12 special projects” were gazetted in July.
“These catalytic projects have been prioritised for immediate implementation with all regulatory processes fast-tracked- enabling more than R340bn in new investments. These projects are at various stages of the project life cycle.
“Those in construction will see the future phases brought earlier for implementation, including some human settlements projects which have already received bulk financing to unlock them.”
Energy supply and Eskom
The president said work to unbundle Eskom into separate entities is under way. Once completed, this will enhance competition while ensuring the sustainability of independent power producers.
“To achieve this, a long-term solution to Eskom’s debt burden will be finalised, building on the social compact on energy security recently agreed by social partners. Through these measures, we aim to achieve sufficient, secure and reliable energy supply within two years.”
Ramaphosa said large-scale public employment will be rolled over the next three years.
“We have committed R100bn in the next three years to create jobs through public and social employment as the labour market recovers. This starts now, with over 800,000 employment opportunities to be created in the months ahead. The employment stimulus is focused on those interventions that can be rolled out quickly and have the greatest affect on economic recovery.”
Small scale farmers and ECD practitioners
Ramaphosa said farmers and early childhood practitioners who were unable to make an income due to the pandemic will receive relief from the government.
“Support is being provided to more than 100,000 EDC practitioners and 750,000 small scale farmers whose production was disrupted by the pandemic.”
Ramaphosa said the special Covid-19 grant which benefited unemployed South Africans proved to be a lifeline for millions.
“We will therefore be extending the special Covid-19 grant by a further three months. This will maintain a temporary expansion of social protection and allow the labour market sufficient time to recover.”