Small firms, farmers to get R3.4bn in relief

Farmers Source: Google Images

The department of Economic Development has re-prioritised R3.4 billion to provide relief for small businesses, small-scale farmers and distressed firms as part of the government’s massive programme to shift funds across national, provincial and local government.

“The reprioritisation will also focus on developing data and information on human settlements, enabling science and innovation research, and assisting public entities in financial distress including South African National Parks,” said the 2020 Supplementary Budget review.

The department was also expected to focus its efforts on supporting the provision of quarantine sites for people who test positive for the pandemic and repatriation of South Africans stranded abroad. “Since the lockdown, the government has repatriated more than 6300 South Africans by air,” said the document.

Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education and provincial departments were reprioritising funding to ensure schools could reopen safely and finish the 2020 year. Just more than R5bn was reprioritised from provincial conditional grants and the school’s backlog grant to provide water and sanitation to schools, construct temporary classrooms, provide personal protective equipment, deep-clean facilities and assist with the catch-up programme.

“About R5bn is reprioritised from university subsidies and National Student Financial Aid Scheme bursaries to help reopen the sector and ensure that infrastructure and devices for students are available for virtual learning,” said the National Treasury. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture had reprioritised over R170million to a relief fund for artists and sports people to compensate for the loss of earnings from events cancelled during the lockdown.

The document said that Departments of Police and Defence had received R6.7bn in additional funding to support the Covid-19 response and increase the deployment of the police service and national defence force during the lockdown, it said.