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Rescue package to stop job losses, says Mthuli Ncube

by Staff reporter
27 Apr 2020 at 23:56hrs | Views
A stimulus package to support companies rocked by the Covid-19 lockdown will soon be unveiled, as part of measures to avert mass job losses and save livelihoods, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.

In interviews on the sidelines of his tours of Ekusileni Medical Centre in Bulawayo and Midlands State University in Gweru on Friday, Prof Ncube said the package was set to provide the much-needed economic relief to companies and industries reeling under the effects of the lockdown imposed to control the pandemic.

"What you will see during this Covid-19 response generally is a stronger shift towards supporting our social action programmes and that is very critical," he said.

"Another leg of saving livelihoods is to support companies so that we can retain jobs as we don't want our people to lose jobs.

"We want to create more jobs, which is precisely why we want to support companies to retain, expand and access working capital. You will see us in the next few weeks announcing the recovery package to deal with those issues and watch the space for that."

During his tour of MSU's incubation hub, Prof Ncube said a $500 million national venture fund was already available and would provide affordable loans to young entrepreneurs and institutions such as the MSU.

"Now, coming to the $500 million, this pertains to the venture fund resources we launched as a Government," he said. "The reason behind is that we are looking for ideas for viable projects that we will invest in that will turn ideas into goods and services."

Prof Ncube said the idea revolved around creating an entrepreneurial culture among Zimbabweans.

"It is pleasing to note that most of our universities are doing similar things in the sense of trying to be practical, coming up with innovations and ideas, that is very encouraging indeed in terms of our education system.  The fund will go a long way in supporting growth of innovation and commercialising these institutions."

Government recently came up with a $600 million package to support the informal sector and vulnerable households.

About one million people who lost their incomes are being supported through cash transfers and food hampers.

"We already have another cash transfer of $180 a month to cover the roller meal subsidy because if you can't find roller meal, the option is that you then get cash in lieu of roller meal, especially those who are in urban areas because in the rural areas we are already giving out free food and this is part of our support for the vulnerable," said Prof Ncube.

He said Government was working with the private sector to fight Covid-19, adding that emphasis was on saving lives and livelihoods.

Prof Ncube said when it comes to saving lives, it was about prevention, testing, tracing and treating.

"Those from outside the country will be quarantined and some of you need to self-quarantine at home and all of this is designed to deal with our Covid-19 strategy, including social distancing and lockdown is all part of that," he said.

"We are working on massive testing targeting at least 40 000 people by next week so that we are able to get a better sampling to know if the curve is flattening or not."

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima recently issued a statement urging companies to avoid retrenchments, unpaid leave and unfair job terminations during the lockdown period.

According to the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe, tourism, hospitality and airlines were the worst affected by the pandemic.

The tourism sector, 61 percent of whose workers are women, is bleeding as hotels, restaurants and bars remained closed and international travel is at a standstill.

Source - the herald

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