Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says business has contributed excellent ideas and proposals to government with regards to mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Representatives of business organisations including Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), the Banking Association and large insurance companies met with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings a short while ago on Sunday.

The engagement was aimed at ensuring that a consolidated economic plan takes into account the business sector’s recommendations.

Patel says the details will be announced during the President’s address to the nation later on Sunday.

He says, “We gave a report on the work that government is doing; the work that we are doing in monitoring the impact of the global slowdown in our own economy, because we sell goods to other parts of the world. We shared with the business community also the work we are doing to ensure basic stocks of health products in South Africa, that there are food and other stocks to our people. We provided information on competition exemptions and price regulations that have been published in the last number of days. We also talked about what we can do to protect vulnerable enterprise particularly small businesses.”

In the video below, business, political parties unite in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic:

Richard Wainwright of the Banking Association says banks and financial services companies are well-placed to play an important role in alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Wainwright, together with other business representatives, was part of the group that met with President Ramaphosa.

Wainwright spoke to media after the business leaders’ meeting with the president.

He says, “Our members and the industry are very well-positioned to collaborate with business. Our clients with government, with our regulators, in helping the nation deal with this crisis that we are facing. We have, to date, already been working extensively through the various ministries and the regulatory bodies to ensure that we play our role and it is a critical and significant role that we can play as banks and financial services companies in helping South Africa deal with this country.”

Some sections of society, including the Democratic Alliance, have called for a nation-wide four-month payment holiday on loans for small and medium businesses, in particular property loans, business loans, and vehicle loans.

Standard Bank has announced a three-month payment holiday for small business owners and students with loans at the bank to give some relief to customers as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Standard Bank’s head of personal and business banking, Funeka Montjane, says clients who are in good standing will qualify automatically for the reprieve.

She says business must have a turnover of less than R20 million rand to qualify.