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Tourism department opens COVID-19 fund applications for SMMEs

Capped at R50,000 per entity the fund will assist small and medium sized businesses to survive during and after the nationwide lockdown.

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The tourism department has on Wednesday opened applications for eligible businesses to apply for a R200 million COVID-19 relief fund.

Capped at R50,000 per entity, the fund will assist small and medium-sized businesses to survive during and after the nationwide lockdown.

It also caters for businesses who are over a year old and have a turnover of less than R5 million.

It's guided by the tourism broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) codes of good practices.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said there were strict requirements.

“All the requirements need to be complied with, including having a registered company [which is an] SMME that fall within the tourism sector and also being tax compliant.”

Meanwhile, SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona said the relief fund provided by government to the sector was not enough.

Ntshona said right now, the whole sector was on lockdown because it was not deemed an essential service.

“The impact is deep, that one we’ve got to be very clear about; the consequences of this virus and the impact of the lockdown are going to be severe. It’s actually going to redefine what the sector is going to look like going forward, so when we talk about recovery, it is not about going back to what it was, it’s about the future.”

However, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was consulting its lawyers on the legality and constitutionality of the fund.

On Wednesday, the party's John Steenhuisen said by using the B-BBEE codes, the department was racialising the distribution of money.

“It’s not only unconscionable [that] the critical financial relief at this time of distress, for thousands of businesses and commercial entities, is rationalised – it is, in our opinion, most likely illegal as well. What we are not going to do is allow the government to use this crisis to further divide our nation. We are going to use every avenue available to us to fight for the rights of every South African.”

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.

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