The South African Future Trust (SAFT) employer relief fund

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The South African Future Trust (SAFT) was set up by Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer as result of the COVID-19 pandemic

The aim of SAFT is to provide interest-free loans to qualifying SMMEs, exclusively for the purpose of paying a specified amount of money to their permanent employees who are at risk of losing their jobs or suffering loss of income due to COVID-19. If the loan is approved the permanent employees of the qualifying SMMEs will receive weekly payments of R750 per employee over 15 weeks (i.e. R11,250 in total per employee) and the full amount of the loan will be a function of the number of permanent employees on the SMME’s payroll. Therefore there is no limit to the number of permanent employees that can receive this funding.

Absa will be administering the loans on behalf of SAFT and will facilitate the signing of the loan agreement with the qualifying SMME and make payments directly to the affected permanent employees.

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Covid-19 TERS Benefit: What you need to know

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One of the measures that is designed to provide relief to employers and employees is the C-19 TERS benefit. On 3 April 2020, the Minister of Employment and Labour issued a revised Directive under the Disaster Management Regulations that will regulate these benefits. In addition, the benefits are subject to the terms of the memorandum of understanding or standard terms, which have also been published.

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The Property Industry Group announces its retail tenant assistance relief package

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The Property Industry Group has announced an industry-wide assistance and relief package for retail tenants that are hardest hit by complying with South Africa’s lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, which focuses principally on supporting affected SMMEs, also provides relief and assistance to all other retail tenants and will be rolled out by landlords nationally.

During the week of 23 March 2020, the major representative bodies for real estate in South Africa – the SA REIT Association (SA REIT), SA Property Owners Association (SAPOA) and SA Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) – formed a collective, which has been coordinating its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically the economic effects of the 21-day lockdown. The newly formed Property Industry Group collectively speaks for the commercial real estate sector in SA, which includes the country’s large property owners.

The commercial property sector makes a significant contribution to SA’s society, economy, tax revenue and employment. It is responsible for more than 300,000 jobs directly and indirectly in other sectors such as security, cleaning, hygiene and technical services, and building and construction.

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How to apply for Covid-19 business funding

Sukuma Relief Programme

Has already reached capacity and suspended until further notice

Positioned to provide widespread and sustainable support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are financially impacted by COVID-19, the newly-established Sukuma Relief Programme comprises two distinct and separate relief offerings – one for formal sole proprietors and another for other
business entities, namely close corporations, companies, and trusts.

This is according to Ben Bierman, Managing Director at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS) – one of Africa’s leading risk finance companies for SMEs and the appointed Administrator of the fund – who explains that the financial aid and assistance will comprise grants and low-interest-bearing loans with a 12- month repayment holiday.

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Tax measures to combat the covid-19 pandemic

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The Minister of Finance has announced the following exceptional tax measures as part of the fiscal package outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020 in his speech on the Escalation of Measures to Combat COVID-19. These measures are over and above the tax proposals made in the 2020 Budget on 26 February 2020. The tax adjustments are made in light of the National State of Disaster and due to the significant and potentially lasting negative impacts on the economy from the spreading of the COVID-19 virus. There is a critical need for government interventions to assist with job retention and assist businesses that may be experiencing significant distress. These measures include:

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Covid-19 Government Plays its part

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It seems that the franchisor sector will be hard hit during the 21 day lockdown with most sectors falling outside the designated essential services. However, help is at hand and FASA has been liaising with the Department of Small Business Development, SEDA and sefa on getting information regarding the COVID-19 SMME Emergency funding package document dated 23 March 2020 as well as the UIF Easy-Aid Guide for Employers . Information is given regarding emergency funding that small business can apply for and the National Disaster Benefit for employees where employers can apply for financial benefits from the UIF.  Click here

According to Akhona Qengqe, FASA’s Chairperson, “whilst the shutdown measures seem drastic, they are also very necessary to contain the spread of the virus and to flatten the curve of new infections. It is unfortunate that most of the franchise businesses in South Africa fall within the SMME category and as a result they stand to feel the most impact from the standstill in economic activity. This category is also responsible for job creation in a country that grapples with high unemployment.”

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Employer and employee relief during the Corona virus pandemic

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Temporary employee relief scheme – understanding your options and how to apply

Most businesses are under server strain as a consequence of the severe measures implemented due to the COVID-19 having been declared a national disaster, wreaking havoc on their cashflow. We asked Maria Vannucci, of Marican, registered professional accountants and tax practitioners, who counts many franchises amongst her clients, to help businesses navigate the crisis.

“Employees who won’t be allowed to work during the lockdown period of three weeks, are, to a large degree, at the mercy of their employers,” says Maria Vannucci.

“While government has encouraged all businesses to continue to pay their employees, who may be stuck at home and won’t be able to work during this time, many companies can’t afford this and are considering their options.”

Businesses are resorting to emergency measures such as short time and temporary lay-off. A fairly recent amendment to the Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 is likely to bring much-needed relief to affected employees.

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Covid-19 Q & A for business operations during the lockdown

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This Q&A constitutes our expectations as to how the business lockdown will take effect. It is not an official document, but intended to bring some clarity to businesses in the interim. Once the official list is released, we will update this information as is necessary.

We appeal to all businesses to respect the importance of the lockdown. Sacrifices will need to be made in the broader interests of the country and its people.

Is there an official list of which businesses that should remain open?

We are anticipating that the official list and conditions will be finalised by government today, then go for publication and be formally announced before the end of day (Wednesday, 25 March). All other lists including the one that we provide below, will be superseded by the official list published by government.

Which businesses may continue to operate during the lockdown?

Essential and critical business continuity services will need to remain open to support the health sector and to keep people healthy, safe, and secure. This will require critical infrastructure and essential businesses to remain functional and secure, as well as maintenance functions to be performed.

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Lockdown regulations and the forms you need for supplying essential services

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Here are the final lockdown regulations that will be enforced in South Africa at midnight on 26th March 2020.  Please read and know what you need to do and what you can and cannot do and what you can and cannot buy.  Also included in this document are the forms you need to complete and have signed in order for you to provide or supply essential services if you fall into the essential services category which is also stipulated in this document.

The next 21 days are going to be both a blessing and a challenge for many.

Final Lockdown Regulations to reduce the spread of the Corona Virus in South Africa.