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President Mnangagwa puts up $18 billion economic rescue package




President Mnangagwa puts up $18 billion economic rescue package. President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that the gradual increase in Covid-19 positive cases had prompted the lockdown extension as the trend had also shown that the country is yet to reach the peak of the pandemic.

Government has put up an $18 billion economic rescue package while extending the lockdown for a further 14 days though under relaxed conditions to allow the economy to start operating.

However, he added that because the lockdown was beginning to put a strain on the economy and on people’s livelihoods, it was important that there be a national strategy to re-open businesses and exit the lockdown.

“Priority remains to reduce Covid-19 transmissions and to gradually restart the economy without undermining the efforts to contain the pandemic. It is imperative the nation acts on two fronts, saving lives and saving livelihoods and the economy. We must remain cautious for as long as the infection curve has not converged with our health delivery readiness curve.”

He said the lockdown would be moved to Level 2 of lockdown – the first time he is mentioning the levels but follows the same pattern as Namibia and South Africa. Level 2 entails that face-mask wearing is mandatory (masks of any type) and that the re-opening of industry and commerce will require that all employees undergo mandatory rapid diagnostic testing of all employees (passing on the cost to companies in the process).

Companies should also practice social distance and set hygiene standards while ensuring employees wear a mask. Health inspection teams to randomly check for compliance. “Those who fail to comply to be immediately stopped from operating.

The President also said operating hours will be from 0800hrs to 1500hrs. Public buses (Zupco) will remain the only mode of transport with social distancing to be maintained and disinfection to happen twice daily. Commuters to be temperature tested and to have hands sanitised before boarding the bus.

The informal sector remains closed except agriculture and food value chains. President Mnangagwa called on those who are vulnerable to register for assistance at Social Welfare offices.

Schools will remain closed as discussions by the Education sector are still ongoing. However, a re-opening strategy will have to prioritise students who are taking final examinations this year. He said new laboratories had been identified to increase and decentralize testing. A rescue package for an economy with existing fragilities

President Mnangagwa said to equally mitigate the debilitating effects of the pandemic, Government had put in an Economic Rescue and Stimulus Package of $18 bln (US$360 mln on the parallel market and US$720 million at the interbank market). $18 billion amounts to 9% of the country’s GDP and 28.6% of the 2020 National Budget. He said the package was proportionate to the disruption the virus had caused in the economy. It will be used to scale up production in all sectors of the economy inclusive of small scale and health care facilities.

Key highlights of the rescue package
– $500 million set aside for micro, small and medium enterprises
– $2.4 billion for a food grant programme to protect vulnerable members of society
– $500 billion for the tourism and hospitality sectors
– $1 billion credit support facility for the mining sector as well as to speed up implementation of the cadastre system
– $3 billion for the manufacturing sector for capital and operational expenses
– $6.1 billion for the agricultural sector
– $1 billion to upscale health facilities
– The income tax break for the healthcare sector (firms and institutions) for at least 6 months
– Fund for productive sectors and MSMEs to be accessed through normal banking channels at 10% interest. A grace period of 6 months and repayment periods of one to four years will be applicable, depending on the scope of business. President Mnangagwa said the Arts sector to come up with a proposal on how best it can be helped to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Source – Bulawayo24 News

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