To mitigate the effect of the 21-day countrywide lockdown and the resultant economic impact, the government has launched various interventions to assist vulnerable individuals and small businesses in need.
Here is a summary of what’s available:
Small business help: small businesses can now register for help, possibly including money, from the government.
Companies can specify the kind of assistance they require, be it financial or other support, though the exact details are still sketchy.
The Department of Small Business Development also announced a “Business Growth/Resilience Facility”. According to Business Insider, the department says the registration database would also be used to alert micro, small, and medium-sized businesses about opportunities and market support measures to be implemented in future.
Interest rates as low as prime less 5% are available for small businesses in need, meaning they will pay just 3.75% a year through the Department of Small Business Development. Register here for help.
Easy-Aid Guide for employers for UIF benefits: The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is to be utlised to make funds available to:
Application forms can be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Labour website: www.labour.gov.za.
The Solidarity Response Fund is expected to spend some of its money on businesses, but details are not yet available. The privately-managed Solidarity Response Fund started to solicit donations on 23 March, after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced government seed funding of R150 million.
Tax relief for businesses: Those businesses with a turnover of less than R50 million are entitled to delay 20% of their PAYE liabilities, with no penalties or accrued interest payable for the next six months. The government has also provided relief for a portion of provisional and corporate income tax. Details are announced periodically at this link: https://www.sars.gov.za/Media/Pages/25March-LettertoTaxpayers.aspx
Maintaining contact with SA Revenue Services: SA Revenue Services (Sars) has announced alternative processes during the Covid-19 lockdown period so that taxpayers and accountants are able to engage with the tax agency.
In a statement issued on 25 March 2020, Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said all contact with Sars should be conducted using its online channels. Sars remains open for business and will be manning its online support channels during the lockdown.
Debt relief from banks: Standard Bank, Nedbank and FNB have announced debt relief for customers during the Coronavirus epidemic. Nedbank clients are advised to call 086 055 5111. Small business clients can speak to their dedicated Nedbank relationship banker if they need to restructure their debt or change their payment arrangements as a consequence of Covid-19.
Following on the heels of Standard Bank’s announcement of a repayment holiday for student and small business owners as a result of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 virus, FNB has promised to assist “SMEs and individual customers whose financial position is adversely impacted by COVID-19.”
Standard Bank announced its Coronavirus Business Interruption Payment Scheme, with more information available here.
Tourism relief: The Department of Tourism has announced a R200 million package of measures to assist SMMEs in the sector affected by Covid-19. Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, outlined the qualifying criteria for assistance. In general, they must have annual turnover less than R2.5 million, and most funding will be directed to rural and black-owned businesses. Businesses that can apply for assistance include:
There will also be an equitable balance between businesses that are in the tourism incentive programme of the Department of Tourism and businesses that are not benefiting from such programmes through a transparent application process, and the criteria outlined above. More information can be obtained at www.tourism.gov.za.