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The South African COVID-19 lockdown & your money matters – what you need to know

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation via live broadcast from the Union Buildings in Tshwane last night, stating that the country will go in full lock-down mode from midnight on Thursday 26 March 2020, until midnight on Thursday 16 April 2020. This 21-day lockdown has been put in place to prevent the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus, which could cripple our healthcare system if person-to-person transmissions continues at the current rate.

In short – things just got very real. There are many South Africans who will feel the financial repercussions of a lockdown of this scale for months, if not years, to come. Naturally, this is something the government understands all too well. To this end, certain measures have been put in place to ensure that the fall-out of this bold, yet completely necessary, decision are contained and minimised as far as possible.

Here are a few important things to know about money matters as we head into lockdown mode this coming Thursday:

date: 23/03/2020Author:

Banks and essential payment services will remain open

The banking system will remain open, the JSE will continue to function, the national payment system will continue to operate, and the Reserve Bank and the commercial banks will ensure that bank notes and coins remain available. Banks, as well as essential financial and payment services will remain open.

Government has set up a fund to combat the disease and address the social effects thereof

Following consultation with social partners, government has set up a Solidarity Fund, which South African businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to. The Fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted. Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period.

Price hikes on basic good will not be allowed

Regulations have been put in place to prohibit unjustified price hikes, to ensure shops maintain adequate stocks of basic goods and to prevent people from ‘panic buying’. It is important for all South Africans to understand that the supply of goods remains continuous and supply chains remain intact.

The informal sector will be supported

A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown. More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place.

Old age and disability grants will be paid out earlier

To alleviate congestion at payment points, old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 01 April 2020. All channels for access will remain open, including ATMs, retail point of sale devices, Post Offices and cash pay points.

Banks are working on providing temporary debt relief

Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.

Tax subsidies will be put in place for private sector employees earning below R6,500

Using the tax system, government will provide a tax subsidy of up to R500 per month for the next four months for those private sector employees earning below R6,500 under the Employment Tax Incentive. This will help over 4 million workers. For more information, you can access the president’s full speech here.

Feeling worried about your debt? Get in touch!

If you are concerned that you may not be able to make your debt repayments during the lock-down phase due to the impact the economic standstill will have on your livelihood, please feel free to get in touch with a Libertine Consultants representative. We will continue to work remotely by means of online consultation and a dedicated 24/7 WhatsApp line. Payments can be done via EFT, so you can address and consolidate your debt with our help from your home without breaking any lock-down rules. We will weather this storm together. Let’s band together and flatten the curve so we can ensure a brighter future for our entire nation. Thank you for your service, Mr Ramaphosa. We know that this decision was not an easy one to make, and we salute your grace under pressure. Stronger together, Mzansi!

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