The main objective behind the application of the lockdown was largely to flatten the curve of Covid-19 and that has been achieved. This is what the Director-General of the Department of Trade and Industry, Mr Lionel October, told the joint meeting of the parliamentary committees on industry in a virtual meeting today. 

The Department of Trade and Industry appeared before a joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and of the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour to update the committees on its response to Covid-19.

Members of the committees expressed mixed reactions to the absence of the Minister of Trae and Industry in the meeting as some felt that he should have led the department and also answer the written questions which some members sent to him. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Mr Duma Nkosi, assured the joint meeting that he will contact the Minister and a time will be determined for the Minister to appear before the committees to answer the all the questions asked of him.

The department was appearing before the committees for an update following its last appearance, which was on 1 May, where the department briefed the joint meeting of the committees on all the sectors of the industry. Today’s update was on the developments since that 1 May briefing.

The department told the committees that the department through the Minister and the Deputy Ministers participates in international Covid-19 forums to ensure that South African industry is not isolated. The forums mentioned included the G20 and African Union countries.

On developments on movement from level four to three lockdown, the department repeated what President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation on 13 May, where he said the government is consulting all the relevant and key stakeholders at the moment. These stakeholders include the National Economic Development and Labour Council, business, labour, manufacturers, retailers and construction.

The department also highlighted that the economy has contracted significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but said that there is post Covid-19 reconstruction of the economy plan in place to repair the huge damage caused by the pandemic to the economy.

Members of the committee wanted to know from the department about the amendments to its annual performance strategic plans, particularly those new key priority areas for the current financial year as a result of the anticipated budget adjustments because of Covid-19. In response, the department said that it is waiting for the new budget from National Treasury, which is expected in June.

The Deputy Minister of the Department of Economic Development, Mr Fikile Majola, who led the department also assured the committees that the Minister will come to answer some of the questions that are directed to him.

Mava Lukani
22 May 2020