Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel announced on Tuesday 24 March that the banking sector in the country would conduct business as usual during the coronavirus lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lockdown on Monday evening to be implemented over a 21-day period.
In efforts to prevent an escalation of the coronavirus pandemic that was declared a national disaster by Ramaphosa, Patel said the government is doing what it can to minimise the negative impact on the ability of customers. This includes enabling both business and private individuals to manage their finances during the national disaster and be in a position to continue normal operations.
In other words, there is no need to withdraw all the money you own for the lockdown period. Your finances can remain in the bank and you can withdraw it whenever it is needed.
Patel said that essential payment systems will continue to be made available despite the nationwide lockdown.
The following will still be fully functional:
The continued availability of banknotes to ATMs, branches and businesses;
The continued provision of essential ATM, branch and corporate banking services; and
The continued provision of electronic payments systems.
Debtor and credit management. Patel also explained that the management of debtors and the extension of credit will continue throughout the national disaster brought upon us by the coronavirus pandemic. This can be done through the following measures:
There will be payment holidays and debt relief for business and individual debtors subject to financial stress;
Limitations set on asset repossessions of business and individual debtors subject to financial stress; and
The extension of credit lines to individuals and businesses subject to financial stress.
Although banking, for the most part, remains the same, payment holidays and debt relief during the pandemic is an exception. Another is the repossession of property — after all, we didn’t ask for a pandemic.
“The exemptions will allow banks to work together in ensuring the continued functioning of the payments system, a critical component of the financial system. This includes sharing information and resources to ensure the continued availability of banknotes to ATMs, branches and businesses,” said Patel.
“These regulations shall remain in operation for as long as the declaration of the COVID-19 in terms of the National Disaster Management Act as a national disaster subsists, or until they are withdrawn,” he added.
According to The Citizen, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and Competition Commission were investigating 11 companies for increasing their prices during the coronavirus pandemic. We have received a number of complaints about companies charging exorbitant prices. The NCC and competition commission are currently investigating eleven companies that are taking advantage of the pandemic,” said Patel.
In other news – The role of SANDF during lockdown
The army will be deployed to support the South African Police Service to enforce the nationwide lockdown. President Cyril Ramaphhosa announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown from midnight on Thursday.
Military analyst Helmoed Heitman said the role of SANDF members could vary, depending on the assistance needed by the police. They have been talking about closing down parts of the road network, to prevent people from moving much. For instance, the army could man vehicle checkpoints. Read more