Govt extends UIF relief fund to support struggling workers, businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown have been particularly bruising for the economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - As the nation prepares to get back to full economic capacity under level 1, government has again extended the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefit for another month.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown have been particularly bruising for the economy. And there has been criticism from some quarters that government had not done enough to help South Africans keep the wolf from the door.

The South African economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, with all non-essential services remaining closed for months under lockdown.

Government earmarked billions of rand to help citizens and businesses to get through the last six months.

READ: President Ramaphosa's full speech on easing of lockdown to alert level 1

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday evening insisted that the systems put in place had served the South African people.

“Following several weeks of engagement, the social partners at Nedlac have made tremendous progress on an ambitious social compact for economic recovery,” Ramaphosa said. “This represents a historic milestone for our country, demonstrating what can be achieved when we unite to confront an urgent crisis.”

He added: “Cabinet will build on this emerging common ground to finalise the country’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan in the coming weeks.

“The reconstruction and recovery plan that will be finalised will build on the R500 billion economic and social relief package we announced in April, which has provided vital support for households, companies, and workers at a time of dire need.”

The president extended the UIF benefit until the end of the national state of disaster, but he said the country should finalise its economic reconstruction.

“In addition to those businesses that have received direct support, many more companies have benefited from tax relief measures worth in the region of R70 billion,” Ramaphosa said. “And millions of South Africans have benefited from the historic reduction in interest rates.”

Ramaphosa said adjustments were also been made to the loan guarantee scheme to make it easier for companies of any size to access credit at low-interest rates with repayments delayed for up to 12 months.

“We encourage all companies who have faced a disruption of their earnings to seek support from this scheme while the economy recovers,” he said.

WATCH: Alert level 1 lockdown: All you need to know

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