Replacing rigid lockdown with a ‘trim down’ approach vital – IRR

Memorandum sets out significant risk of ‘all pain, no gain’ lockdown, and makes case for alternative approach

Replacing rigid lockdown with a ‘trim down’ approach vital to SA’s economic recovery – IRR

16 April 2020

To save #LivesAndLivelihoods and get SMMEs and the economy into a state of recovery, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will today call on the government to abandon its rigid lockdown strategy in favour of a ‘trim down’ approach.

Following constructive engagement with government officials on its earlier policy recommendations, the IRR will deliver a memorandum on its ‘trim down’ proposal to the Presidency, the Minister of Health, of Trade and Industry, and Finance. The memorandum sets out the significant risks of an ‘all pain, no gain’ lockdown, and makes the case for an alternative approach.

The four elements of the ‘trim down’ alternative are:

Trim down state expenditure;

Trim down risks associated with resuming economic activity by introducing a Covid-19 Risk Scale;

Trim down SMME expenses by enabling busineses to proactively impove their position on the Covid-19 Risk Scale; and

Trim down red tape to ease pressure on SMMEs

This four-point plan would create the necessary conditions to ensure that both #LivesAndLivelihoods can be protected.

Deputy Head of Policy Research for the IRR Hermann Pretorius  said: “The IRR has said from the start of this crisis that a sensible, solution-orientated policy approach offers South Africa the best hope of weathering this storm. Building on our comprehensive policy response framework, Friends
In Need, published in March, the IRR today offers a constructive and workable alternative to free South Africans from the risks associated with a lockdown approach.

“A ‘trim down’ approach can re-energise the economy and get its SMME heart beating again by cutting back on non-essential state expenditure; scrapping the arbitrary, confusing and destructive differentiation between essential and non-essential services; enabling small and medium enterprises to get back into business without putting lives in danger; easing the financial burden on SMMEs; and easing pressure on employers by scrapping BEE and temporarily suspending minimum wage requirements.

“Our approach can get South Africans back to work, to earning and looking after their loved-ones, while at the same time ensuring the most vulnerable are cared for and safe.”

Pretorius added: “People are scared, and many are already suffering. We must do everything we can to save #LivesAndLivelihoods amidst this crisis. We must make sure the sacrifices that have been and are being made are not in vain. We must at all costs avoid ‘all pain, no gain’ lockdowns and lay the groundwork for recovery now.”

All South Africans can endorse the IRR’s policy solutions and the ‘trim down’ approach here.

Issued by Hermann Pretorius, IRR Deputy Head of Policy Research, 16 April 2020