The move from lockdown Level 1 to Level 3 has brought about new restrictions; the alcohol ban and a curfew to name a few. While the alcohol, tourism and hospitality industries found it easier to survive under Level 1, it has all been done away with now after a frightening surge in COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalisations. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a recent interview with EWN, said flat out that there is no money for relief.

‘WE DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY’ – RAMAPHOSA 

A reporter, questioning the president pointed out the obvious fact that there was no relief package announced when the latest restrictions were packed on. 

“There are a lot of people who are working in sectors that are now strained, sectors that are not allowed to operate like the alcohol industry for instance that is feeling the pinch. They are asking the question; ‘where is the relief? Because we are struggling in terms of our livelihoods,” he told the president. 

“Why did you not announce a relief package, do we not have the money?” he asked Ramaphosa. 

“We do not have the money, that’s the simple truth that has to be put out there. We are constrained from a financing point of view,” Ramaphosa said. 

“The relief measures that we announced last year, amounted to about 10% of our GDP, which is quite a big amount of money for a middle-income economy like ours. We were punching at a very high level like your high-income country economies but we took a bold stance to support our people, to support small, medium enterprises and to support a number of other companies,” he added. 

“Right now, we are at a stage where we now have to fund the vaccines which is going to amount to a lot of money as well so we are constrained but we’re also hoping that these measures will not be measures that will go on for too long. We want to see them being short-term measures, focused on achieving the objectives that we’ve got. So, I don’t see them being permanent measures or medium to long-term measures. 

INDUSTRIES FEELING THE PINCH FROM COVID-19 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS 

Apart from Ramaphosa’s utterances, South African Breweries (SAB), on Friday 15 January, cancelled R2.5 billion in investments following the reintroduction of the alcohol ban. 

“South African Breweries (SAB) has cancelled a further R2.5 billion of capital investment following the third alcohol ban. This follows a previous cancellation of R2.5 billion in investments, which was pulled in August 2020. After this third and unexpected ban, we have decided to pull more of our capital expenditure,” SAB said in a statement. 

“Given the material impact that this third ban on the sale of alcohol has on our business and the possibility of further bans, we’ve no choice but to halt these investments for the foreseeable future. This decision will impact on the profitability of and the number of jobs created by the companies that would have worked with SAB to execute the capital investment plans,” it added. 

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) also sent a letter out to restaurant owners asking for their help. It asked them to complete surveys and furnish them with information that could help build a solid case for the alcohol ban to be lifted. RASA CEO Wendy Alberts said it would like to take government on in court.  

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Presh JM Reporter

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