Oscar looks to alleviate lockdown effects

Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane is putting plans in place to address the economic impact of lockdown on the province after the 21-day shutdown ends.

Mabuyane confirmed some of the details during an interview at the weekend.

A provincial solidarity fund along the lines of that established by national government is one of the measures being discussed by the Eastern Cape government

An economic commission is being established to look at how the situation can be navigated from a financial perspective.

The plan  also includes:

  • Setting up a high-level team to advise on appropriate policy responses to the economic impact of Covid-19;
  • Using provincial government networks to “leverage expertise required to address the economic impact of Covid-19 and provide multi-agency support measures”; and
  • Protecting provincial pipeline investments.

The commission is to include leaders from across SA who play critical public roles in the economy,  two special economic zone CEOs,  two MECs from the economic development cabinet committee, two top management members from the province's economic development cluster, and representatives of business chambers, organised labour and organised civil society.

These leaders are being appointed by Mabuyane.

“We have decided to establish the economic commission in preparation for life after Covid-19,” the premier said.

He said the plan would come into effect after the 21-day lockdown.

“We already have the provincial economic development strategy but we had to trigger a short- and medium-term strategy as much as we're working on a 10-year vision (provincial development plan)," Mabuyane said.

“All our plans have been disrupted by this Covid-19 crisis. We have a multidimensional and skilled team that we've assembled from the different sectors of our economy and academia.”

Academics were being included to ensure the plan was based on empirical evidence,” he said.

“These people we've put together will help us to ensure that whatever we're thinking is based on research and development.” 

Border-Kei Chamber of Business executive director Les Holbrook commended Mabuyane's plan.

He said though the chamber had not been approached on the commission, members had “extended ourselves the day after the lockdown was announced”.

He said: “We're assisting with other cases where the government requires data and information and  surveys of how business is coping and being affected,” Holbrook said.

“It is a great initiative, and gives an opportunity to stand up and help. The better organised we are, the better we're going to survive. We're always committed to act, not only as the voice of business, but to walk the talk. No doubt the chamber can be of significant use.”

“We have contingency arrangements, and continue to help, advise and co-operate.”

At the weekend, it was announced that more than R2bn has been pledged by South Africans to the Solidarity Fund.

More than 3,000 individuals have donated amounts ranging from R1,000 to R100,000 Other donations have been made by large corporations and medium-sized businesses.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the formation of the fund two weeks ago and said the fund would focus on efforts to combat the spread of the virus, track its spread and care for those who are ill.

He said the fund would also support those whose lives had been disrupted.

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