President Ramaphosa to announce fresh lockdown rules tomorrow, alcohol ban to be lifted

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President Cyril Ramaphosa and other government officials met with business and labour officials on Thursday (13 August) as part of a National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) meeting to discuss South Africa’s coronavirus response.

While the meeting primarily focused on a forward-looking economic plan, organised labour warned that Ramaphosa will need to take decisive action on the lifting of restrictions – including a ban on alcohol and tobacco products.

Cosatu’s parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks said that the country’s patience is wearing thin, BusinessDay reported.

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Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on the easing of restrictions this weekend, said Peregrine Treasury Solutions in a note on Friday (14 August).

“Following rumours that Ramaphosa is facing pressure to lift the ban on alcohol and cigarettes, and reduce the lockdown to level two, many expected Ramaphosa to address the nation on Thursday evening with an update that would potentially see some of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy regain some operational ability.

“However, as of Friday morning, some news reports indicate that this may only take place on Saturday,” it said.

The president is set to ease lockdown restrictions, including the scrapping of an alcohol sales ban Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the matter.

The country will move to so-called alert level 2, although details of which curbs will be retained are still being worked out, Bloomberg said, citing for people close to the matter.

Two said a decision had been taken to allow alcohol to be sold, and two said the tobacco-sales ban would be scrapped, while one source said travel restrictions would also be relaxed.

“The measures that we have put in place have been working, and we are seeing a tapering off of the number of infections,” said Lungi Mtshali, a spokesman for the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Ministry, which administers the lockdown rules.

“The numbers are going down, and regular assessments will be done to open up the economy when ready.”

MOVING FORWARD

Participants in the Nedlac meeting agreed that measures are required to stem further declines in GDP, a worsening of the budget deficit and deeper job losses.

To this end, Nedlac members said they will nominate senior leadership to serve on a team that will over the next three weeks draw up a set of priority actions for economic reconstruction and the institutional arrangements to support these actions.

“These arrangements will build on the foundation of the work done by social partners on implementing the agreements reached at the Presidential Job Summit in 2018 and will include transforming the current Presidential Working Committee on the Jobs Summit into a Presidential Working Committee on Economic Recovery,” the presidency said in a statement.

“The team will focus on such areas as job creation, having a sectoral approach, prioritising infrastructure, the need for urgent attention on energy security and working on the bottlenecks to economic growth.

“There is broad agreement that proposals for economic recovery need to be underpinned by immediate measure to protect jobs and livelihoods and building a capable state.”

The team is set to present an economic recovery action plan to Nedlac and the president – that will then be submitted to cabinet for endorsement.

– Businesstech


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