Covid-19: Business sets up project management office to collaborate with government

23 March 2020 - 08:30 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
The business sector has collaborated with government to tackle the social, health and economic impacts of Covid-19.
The business sector has collaborated with government to tackle the social, health and economic impacts of Covid-19.
Image: Masi Losi/Sunday Times

The business sector said it is proactively collaborating with government to reduce the economic, social and health affects of Covid-19.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said it, the Black Business Council (BBC) and other companies met President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday as part of a multi-stakeholder engagement on Covid-19.

“Business has rapidly mobilised to combine its resources in the service of South Africa and its people to limit the economic, social and health affects of Covid-19 on the country,” said Busa in a statement.

The organisation said the business sector had established a project management office to ensure collaboration with government and to use available business resources and capacity to support public-sector initiatives.

“In a unique collaboration across public and private sectors, this will see business being aligned with government in putting the needs of South Africa first. Task teams have been set up to proactively assess and implement business initiatives to deal with the impact of Covid-19 in health, the labour market and the broader economy, all three of which will be assisted by a communications task team,” said Busa.

The health work-stream, the organisation said, was focused on mobilising resources to contribute to Covid-19 tracing, tracking, testing, monitoring and pathology labs; communicating about Covid-19; hospital responses and personal protective equipment (PPE), medicines and medical devices; and supporting the national health department with capabilities to enable more specific demographic resource deployment.

“The economic work-stream will, inter alia, identify critical sectors in the national response; help develop policy and industry specific interventions, including tax and loan relief; ensure security of critical supplies and energy; model the economic impact of Covid-19; and combat predatory pricing, rent seeking and panic buying.

“To tackle the impact of the necessary quarantines and lockdowns and the subsequent substantial decline in consumer activity, other areas the team is working on, include:

       

  • Mitigating the risks of inconsistent electricity supply and other infrastructural constraints;
  • Assessing the impact on technology, media and telecommunications services and networks, given the urgency for remote working;
  • Mitigating the risks from the public transport system and identifying alternative mass commuter services; and
  • Identifying necessary import substitution requirements and optimising local manufacturing accordingly.”

The labour work-stream, Busa said, will look at the impact of Covid-19 on employers and employees, developing advice on issues such as short working hours, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) claims and special leave. It will identify and address blockages such as seeking adjustments to the Disaster Management Regulations and other aspects of the regulatory framework.

“It will also be encouraging good practice to preserve and support employees, environment and workplace hygiene, and collaboration with regulators, especially in high-risk sectors.”


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