The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) has welcomed government's approach to finding a balance between a continuous mitigation against the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to look at and consider a phased, risk-adjusted programme of re-entry into the economy.
Sacci CEO Alan Kukoki says that while the country is fighting this pandemic, it is important to recognise the devastating effect it is having on the local economy.
He highlights that economies across the world are struggling and not just South Africa. For example, the US economy has now lost close to 26.5-million jobs owing to this pandemic.
Business for South Africa is projecting that one-million jobs may be lost in South Africa owing to the lockdown.
“South Africa’s problems were compounded by three negative forces that have impacted the economy simultaneously: the technical recession, the Covid-19 lockdown and the downgrading of South Africa's sovereign to junk status.
“Any one of these factors would have posed a significant challenge for the economy, its prospects for recovery, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the deficit, unemployment, debt-to-GDP, the balance of payments and the exchange rate,” notes Kukoki.
To have all these negative forces coalescing at the same time, can only mean the challenges of solving poverty, inequality and joblessness have become much more complex and intractable.
"Sacci believes the efforts of President Cyril Ramaphosa in announcing the stimulus package must also be commended.
“Getting the economy to work in a safe environment will be critical as this alone should assist the country in finding the revenue to repay the massive amount of debt required to support the economy owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We call on business to work with the President and his Ministers to submit well-thought-out plans on how to reopen the particular economic sectors, in a measured way, while continuing to mitigate against this pandemic, as a non-negotiable,” the chamber states.
Sacci further urges businesses to take responsibility to work for and find the balance for both the public health risk, as well as the mitigation against an economic collapse.
“With diligence and rigour, we must ensure, as business, that the planned re-activation of the economy, does not contribute to worsening the pandemic. It is not an either or. We have to do both,” concludes Mukoki.