The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has proposed a raft of measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in South Africa.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the party said the government must pay all workers earning below R15,000 a month a once-off R3,500 grant “for food and hygiene essentials.”
It urged the government to “engage” business, and the financial sector in particular, to offer financial relief to workers.
‘Suspend home loan repayments’
The EFF said, “All banks must suspend payments for home loans for four months and restructure terms of payments for home loans. All home loan payments that were made on the 15th and [the] ones scheduled for the 25th of March should be reversed.
“All banks must suspend repayment of personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts for a period of four months. All banks must suspend repayment of car loans for four months.
“Lastly, all service providers such as MultiChoice, Vodacom, MTN and others should suspend debit orders for four months.”
The party also said the government should use “surpluses” from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Compensation Fund and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to fund companies to enable them to pay salaries and liabilities.
Proposals mirror those by DA
Small businesses that employ one to 50 employees should also get funding from the government to avoid retrenchments, the EFF said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) made similar proposals in a statement issued by its shadow minister of finance, Geordin Hill-Lewis.
The DA called for “a nationwide four-month payment holiday on loans for small and medium businesses, in particular, property loans, business loans, and vehicle loans.”
Other proposals it made include a pause or reduction in rental payments and a rates relief for local businesses by local governments that can afford it.
The DA added, “The Department of Labour could pause payments for UIF and Worker’s Compensation Fund by small businesses for four months, without affecting workers’ cover under these funds.
“To protect businesses from bankruptcy, we propose that business rescue proceedings should receive an automatic three month extension beyond the three months provided for in S132 of the Companies Act.”
During his address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the Cabinet is finalising a stimulus package for the economy to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.
At a media briefing after meeting political parties in Parliament on Wednesday, Ramaphosa also appealed to the government’s social partners, including business, labour and civil society groups, to be involved.