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Parly’s finance committees grapple with implementation of R500 bn relief fund

The National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) are presenting government's plans and proposed disaster and tax bills centred on a R500 billion COVID-19 relief fund.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Parliament's finance committees are on Thursday grappling with how the bold measures shared by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week would be implemented.

The National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) are presenting government's plans and proposed disaster and tax bills centred on a R500 billion COVID-19 relief fund to the standing and select committee on finance.

Members of the finance committees had many questions for Treasury and Sars officials, which have occupied the public discourse since the president announced that R500 billion would be allocated to various programmes to help cushion South Africans from the impact of COVID-19.

However, more alarming was a point raised by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and other members of the committee questioning the reason for the consultations given that the president had already announced the relief to the nation.

The EFF’s Floyd Shivambu said: “So can we agree that it is not lawful, it is now an issue of major expense that the executive wants to engage in and wants to abuse.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Geordin Hill-Lewis was concerned about how quickly the funds to businesses would trickle in, given the heightened expectations.

“But I suspect that the businesses are already deferring their payments monthly.”

Treasury was quick to remind the parliamentarians that the tax, grants and funding issues, including whether the International Monetary Fund or World Bank would be asked for assistance, would be addressed by the president later on Thursday and in the Finance Minister’s adjustment budget.

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