Sage welcomes the news that government has decided to ease lockdown restrictions, allowing small businesses such as restaurants, travel agents and hairdressers to reopen.
It comes after the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa easing level 3 lockdown restrictions further, allowing over 500,000 more people to return to work in sectors that include hotels, personal care services, theatres and cinemas.
We applaud the government’s quick action to save lives and flatten the curve through the national lockdown. However, the months without trade have been extremely challenging for small businesses and their employees, many of whom were already struggling to make ends meet.
Business owners are eager to reopen and ready to take the necessary precautions to keep customers and employees safe. Clear regulations and awareness campaigns from government can help small businesses strike the right balance between economic activity and reducing the spread of the virus.
The pandemic has battered consumer income and confidence, so business-as-usual will not resume at the flick of a switch. Many businesses may need ongoing support to pay their bills, keep people employed, and get through this time.
To date, some small businesses have been locked down for more than 80 days, with most acknowledging that the government’s R500 billion stimulus package for business owners and employees losing their income is not enough.
We would welcome announcements from government around extending the temporary employer/employee relief scheme (TERS) and additional Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) relief measures to help small businesses get back on their feet.
In addition, this seems like an opportune time for government to accelerate the review of the preferential small business tax regime, the VAT registration threshold and the turnover tax, as Finance Minister Tito Mboweni mentioned in the budget speech in February.
We hope Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Covid-19 emergency budget on 24 June will include bold measures to help struggling small businesses to survive this trying time. Small businesses will be listening closely.