Kingston calls for faster reopening of SA economy

Or risk facing a depression.
Business alliance says the aim must be to migrate to Level 1 lockdown as soon as possible. Image: Shutterstock

Economic cluster lead within the Business for South Africa (B4SA) Covid-19 alliance, Martin Kingston, has urged government to fast-track the reopening of the economy or face a more devastating economic fallout – possibly even a depression.

Speaking during a B4SA webcast briefing on Wednesday, Kingston said that for South Africa to get back to full economic activity, it needs to “be enabled to move down the various lockdown levels as quickly and responsibly as possible”.

Kingston, who is also vice-president of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), warned that at least a million jobs are set to be lost in the country. However, if the phased “risk-adjusted” approach to restart the economy is not accelerated, up to four million jobs in the formal and informal sectors will be at risk.

Read: Covid-19: B4SA foresees up to 4 million job losses

B4SA – an alliance of organised business bodies formed in mid-March that includes Busa, the Black Business Council and other corporate sector volunteers – has presented an even more dire forecast for the local economy.

It now says that GDP is likely to shrink by between 10% and 17% as result of the impact of Covid-19 and related lockdown measures.

“In collaboration with government at all levels, as well as with our social partners at Nedlac, we need to accelerate the restart of the economy to minimise hardship, hunger and desperation. These factors could threaten the rule of law and weaken South Africa’s capacity to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kingston.

Read: Covid-19 impact on construction sector will be ‘catastrophic’ 

“We have every reason to believe that a safe return to work will be successfully achieved. This is provided that people and businesses abide by the hygiene, mask usage and social distancing protocols, adhere to regulations inside the workplace and in public places and, importantly, cooperate with the authorities with due regard for healthcare protocols to reduce the risk of transmission,” he added.

Kingston said the B4SA Covid-19 alliance contributed to the conceptualisation of the government’s risk-adjusted approach towards responding to the pandemic and provided input to the initial thinking on Level 4 lockdown regulations.

He however added that B4SA had “no visibility” around the time frames for the various lockdown levels. It is interacting with government regarding “Level 4 challenges” that include high levels of “regulatory complexity, unworkability and difficulty” from an implementation perspective.

“We think it is possible that there can be adjustments within the levels,” he said.

That is the discussion we are having with the government now so that we can migrate to Level 1 as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Kingston noted that South Africa’s economy was already in a slump even before Covid-19. “The recession is going to be much deeper than we initially thought and it’s going to endure for much longer [due to the pandemic],” he said.

Kingston intimated the country could face an economic depression, however, he stopped short of directly saying this. He said that it could take three to five years for the country’s economic growth to return to its pre-recession and credit rating downgrade levels.

Listen: GDP will see a double-digit decline in 2020 – B4SA

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Worldwide economic damage and destruction, millions of job losses, salary cuts, trillions in money printing, thousands of lives thrown into poverty and chaos, billions in loan and rental defaults …and for what????? A slightly higher than average flu season!!!!!!!!!! WTF is wrong with mankind. When did we start allowing career politicians and their ignorant advisors to control us? When did we become sheep? Annual death rate worldwide is 160 000 people per day…thus 19 000 000 over 6 months. We did all this damage, and continue to do it….for the paltry number of 240 000 deaths. Not even 2 full days of the average death rate. I cannot believe what politicians have done, and how we all allowed our fear to feed this carnage. In decades to come, this time period will not be remembered for the “terrible pandemic of covid 19”, but rather as the time we allowed the “virus of fear” and “mass hysteria” to infect our minds and cause mankind to commit suicide…both financial and literal. Irrational fear is and was the real virus here. Apologies for my french…BUT WHAT PANDEMIC? Unbelievable!!!.

Exactly! It is like Sweden’s minister of Health said: “Implementing lockdown is like committing suicide because you have seen a spook.”

This is the accurate description of the situation. The world is committing suicide because politicians and officials in health departments feel threatened by their inaction. Out of absolute self-interest, both the politician and the official implement knee-jerk reactions because they are afraid of doing nothing. When the system gives wider powers to a specialist, they can cause absolute mayhem and destruction. The level of knowledge of a specialist, per definition, is severely limited to a very specific small field. The politician is a specialist in the centralisation of control over the population and the health official is a disease specialist who will always propose isolation, a ban on smoking and alcohol and the shutting of industry.

Now in this situation, we combine the destructive tendencies of both these specialist. We empower the health official to propose lockdown and we empower the politician to jump at the opportunity to take absolute power over the lives of people. Lockdown is a symptom of system failure. Ask the police general for advice and he will say “skop skiet and doner”. Ask the military general for advice and he will recommend “this is war, we need a curfew”. Ask the doctor and he will say “stay at home, isolate, eat clean, don’t drink and smoke, wear a mask”. Ask the politician he will say “I will pass a law to implement the advice of these specialists to save you, so you can vote for me so I can take away your freedom”.

We should ask ourselves this simple question – If the Chinses did not inform the rest of the world about their covid outbreak, would we have lockdown, or would people simply contract a new strain of the flu virus?

“We should ask ourselves this simple question – If the Chinses did not inform the rest of the world about their covid outbreak, would we have lockdown, or would people simply contract a new strain of the flu virus?”

Brilliant! A profound question, hits the nail squarely on the head.

Agree with your sentiments but your views are a bit skewed towards the living and too little towards the dead.

We need balance. Unfortunately it will take the government very long to find that.

Whether the economic lock-down was the most sensible way to deal with this pandemic is debatable. But to argue that only “240,000” people have died is not a point that anyone would bring to that debate, other than someone who has severe limitations in their logical thinking.

240,000 people have died despite all the draconian measures taken…how many do you think it would be otherwise? At a mortality rate of just 0,5%, that’s 40m people worldwide.

But I guess as long as you, or your family are not one of those 40m, that too is just paltry number. Hell, against 19m people dying every six months, what’s 6m people dying in concentration camps over 6 years? What was all that fuss about???

About 15 million people died in the concentration camps 1939-1945

CV63 …I am afraid it’s your logical thinking thats impaired. Go do some research. Brazil, sweden and Iran have had minimal to zero lockdowns. Are they showing massive uncontrolled death!!! No. Their death rates are smack bang in the middle of the worldwide averages. Before I make my next comment, a disclaimer. I have 4 of the supposed underlying high risk conditions mentioned by WHO. Knowing that and the risk I and my family face, I unashamedly argue that your 40 million deaths will not happen, and if they do, better that than 7.9 billion people fighting it out in war torn civil unrest for the last scraps of food. Or do you think surviving Covid 19 means you will live forever with overflowing tables of food?? Come on man, catch a wake up, do research, and stop buying in to the media driven panic.

….you missed the basis of the point HS was stating…

The country, what gives the larger population its purpose living there is being held hostage to a defunct narrative that this contagion, contagious as it is, is not more fatal than other causes of death BUT its destruction of the economy that supports the larger populace is stratospheric to it importance to fear and reasoning

As for the holocaust, no idea how that context came into your limited thinking regarding the narrative
Perhaps sent a letter of complaint to Xi Jinping

CV63 your figures are way out. In South Africa the 161 COVID-19 deaths against the population of 59 million is a morbidity rate of 0.00027% .

Now, go to http://www.statssa.gov and compare to the death rates for heart disease, tuberculosis and diabetes. Those figures are thousands of times higher. Even the non-natural rates of accidents, acts of violence and suicides are far higher.

@HS…who’s spreading the panic? The world is not running out of food.

You raise fresh points but they don’t stack up either. Sweden’s per capita Covid death rate is around 29 (per 100,000) which is multiples higher than other Scandinavian countries: Denmark (c.9), Norway (c. 4) and Finland (c. 4.5). There are only some 7 countries globally that have a higher mortality rate. For most countries its less than 10.

Iran and Brazil have had much lower mortality rates, but contrary to what you say, they both had economic lock-downs. Not sure where you get your information from…Breitbart?

As I said, it’s debatable whether the economic lock-down was the way to go, but if you are going to make a case against it, you will be much more convincing if you rely on logic and facts rather than on ranting and sprouting irrelvant numbers.

100% Correct you are CV63. So glad your superior logic has shown me the way. You go sanitize, hide away, wear masks, avoid exercise before 6am and after 9am etc….and I truly hope you avoid the flu which has killed a massive 0.00003% of the worlds population over 8 months (yes 8 months. Reuters carried an article last night which now indicates cases were circulating in October 2019 already).

PS to everyone else!!
Get to work and fight tooth and nail for your jobs, businesses, civil rights and basically the freedom and ability to exercise common sense. Hopefully CV63 and the apocalypse crowd provide enough fodder for the wave of retrenchments happening and which will still happen going forward.

@ The Navigator…0.5% of 8bn people, if the entire planet got infected. In SA, at that mortality rate we would be looking at say 300,000 people, assuming we are average. Given our special circumstances (high obesity and diabetes rates, lots of people with compromised immunity), that number may be higher. Where do you draw the line? What fatality rate is acceptable? I don’t know.

None of this is to my original point: you cannot evaluate the decision to lock down based on the number of people who have died, if that number is greatly reduced by the lock-down.

As originally thought. The us no conscience with capital.

A cheaper option would be to give every person two months supply of vitamin C, D and zinc and carry on with life practicing social distancing. I think the command council are enjoying there power. I think we are under military rule.

The lockdown is all about political power, control and egos of politicians and has almost nothing to do with the health issue. When did the NCCC last give the minister of health free reign to speak his mind to the public? The lockdown is all about what you can’t do and will be prosecuted if you do do.

Quite correct and sensible proposal. The South African Government has buried their heads in the sand preparing for an onslaught that will probably never come. Hospital wards sit empty around the country, I have seen articles of people being denied medical procedures because they are allegedly reserving beds for Corona Virus patients. And for what? A virus that has a 0.02% mortality rate? When HIV/AIDS, TB etc kills more people every day?

And 6000 odd infected (of those tested) of which presumably only a small fraction actually end up in hospital? I would think that the proportion of the 6000 odd infections that end up in hospital would be easily handled by the hospitals in one of the large centres while the infections are spread throughout the country.

Far, far more people in South Africa will die from poverty than from the COVID-19 pandemic. Lack of access to health, sanitation, food and clean water is the biggest killer by far. This access is being prevented by the lockdown.

When you move a country into depression you can control everyone’s life with money via the top. And that seems to be the anc’s agenda? The alpha male syndrome.

We have no option but to accelerate opening up the economy. Food parcels for the poor and the public cannot contribute continuously to support the most vulnerable.

PPE has to be worn and become a way of life now and for the future.Sadly my wife and I walk most days since Level 4 and the amount of people of all race groups with no masks.When you say something most have lousy comments.

All Governments including our ANC need a massive wakeup call. Reduce spending on War and corruption and prepare for the next onslaught which might be around the corner.

Are we ready?

WJS

It becomes clear as days go by that there are forces at play focusing not so much on ‘flattening the curve’ but on other hidden objectives. Mess up the economy, blame Ramaphosa and have him recalled by the NEC. Or: destroy the economy and create out of the mess an utopian socialistic state. Far-fetched?

I don’t give a planing podger about all this talk! I WANT SMOKES!!! With some maternal incestuous beers!!!

The nightly death count announcements should be halted. Instead lets hear about the recoveries? How are the recovered recovering? What treatment is being used if there is no cure? And if people are recovering with no cure, why the need for Bill Gates (of Hell)’s vaccine?

If more people have recovered (with no cure) than those who have died; why is this lockdown ongoing? A friend of mine once told me that they believe most of us have already gotten this COVID and recovered because we probably didnt show any symptoms. You might think this is the reason they should be ramping up testing? If you reach the +/-30k a day target that the gov spoke of, you will need over 1800 days to test everyone in SA. If the infection rate stays low as it is, you still have over 600 positives per day. This means the lockdown will NEVER end.

I think the NCC needs to re-look at their OVERREACTION to this virus and chart a new course. The clock is ticking and this economy is dead and needs urgent resuscitation before its too late.

And if you’re one of the people who do not want this lockdown to end because you’re working from home and still employed and receiving a salary. Alot of businesses inform shareholders before informing employees that they are retrenching. Your letter might be right around the corner. Your are not safe. Prepare for the worst.

You almost get the feeling that a recession is what they (the Government) wants. Then they can remake the economy according to their RET wishes. Heaven help us because our Government is starting to make the tin-pot North Korean rulers look sane by comparison. It really is madness and in a story on another business site the Labour Minister is urging business to ramp up employment through technology and infrastructure. The people of South Africa must unite in a non-political way (if possible) and put an end this otherwise we are history.

Martin – Cyril
always listens to you – I think it’s time to convince him to lift the ban on smokes and alcohol.

Thousands of saffers are killed on our roads each year. What, are we going to ban motor cars next??

End of comments.

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