Now that Level 3 lockdown has been extended to 15 February, citizens feel that the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (UIF TERS) should continue to provide relief until then. Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier released a statement reiterating the call for a UIF Ters extension as it stopped accepting new applications in October 2020.
Maynier said the tourism and hospitality industry has already been hard-hit, and jobs are being lost as a result of the continued closure of the beaches, the curfew and the alcohol ban.
“It is simply not fair to expect tourism, hospitality and liquor businesses to continue with limited operations or even close during the peak summer season without the necessary financial support to ensure they remain operational and can retain their staff during the Alert Level 3 restrictions,” he said.
Maynier also wrote to the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi asking him to urgently extend the UIF COVID-19 TERS scheme for the duration of the Level 3 lockdown.
“Approximately R56 billion in UIF COVID-19 TERS payouts have been distributed for the period from the end of March to 15 October 2020. Additional payouts can be funded by the UIF’s total investment portfolio of R114 billion as at 31 March, which includes R60 billion in liquid assets and R54 billion in illiquid assets. These funds could provide the lifeline that businesses and employees need to sustain their operations while these restrictions on the economy are in place,” he added.
The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa also joined in, demanding that government immediately reinstate the scheme;
“We demand that the government must ensure UIF TERS is extended to assist and support workers and companies who are affected by the government in order to revert back to Level 3. ALL outstanding payments must be settled immediately,” the union said in a statement.
Recently, the CEO of the Tourism Business Council, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa revealed that government is in talks regarding relief funds.
“Our industry is not fully operational due to restrictions. These restrictions must be followed by financial relief like UIF TERS for the industry, loan payment holidays, and interest reduction from lending institutions. This discussion is underway at the moment.”
However, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently told the media that there is no more money for relief.
“We do not have the money, that’s the simple truth that has to be put out there. We are constrained from a financing point of view. Right now, we are at a stage where we now have to fund the vaccines which is going to amount to a lot of money as well so we are constrained but we’re also hoping that these measures will not be measures that will go on for too long,” said Ramaphosa.