Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan gets the green light from business, labour

 

* *The National Economic Development and Labour Council has agreed on

an action plan for the country’s economic recovery.

* *President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the council on Tuesday.

* *Details of the plan will be announced once it is finalised by Cabinet.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council has agreed to an

economic recovery plan for South Africa.

According to a statement issued by the Presidency on Tuesday, following

a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nedlac – a body

comprised of representatives of government, business, labour and

community – the details of the plan will be announced once it is

finalised by Cabinet.

The country’s economy is set to contract anywhere between 7% and 13%

this year due to the damaging impact of the lockdown that was instituted

to curb the spread of Covid-19. Most recent data from Stats SA showed

that the economy contracted by 51% quarter on quarteron

an annualised basis as a result of the lockdown, which saw economic

activity grind to a halt for five weeks.

The country has had to borrow from multilateral institutions such as the

International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and the New

Development Bank, in order to fund responses to the pandemic as well as

buoy the economy.

“The social partners’ action plan is founded on significant convergence

on what needs to be done to set the economy on a new, accelerated,

inclusive and transformative growth trajectory.

“Social partners have identified priority areas for rebuilding the

economy as well as structural reforms and other programmes which will

enable sustainable and inclusive growth with an intensive focus on job

creation,” read the statement from the Presidency.

 

Notably, Nedlac agreed on a social compact to mobilise funding to

address Eskom’s financial crisis “in a sustainable manner”, according to

the statement. Eskom is facing a growing debt burden which currently

stands at some R480 billion. It’s been battling with operational

challenges, impacting its ability to supply power with detrimental

effects on business confidence and economic growth.

Commenting on the agreement and the commitments made by social partners

to implement the plan, the president said it “is a great achievement

that rises to the challenge of the moment”.

 

www.samigration.com

The new tax and emigration change South Africans should know about

The draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB), which is open for public comment, will introduce changes for South Africans looking to take their retirement funds abroad.

In an analysis of the proposed change, law firm ENSAfrica said that the changes primarily deal with formal emigration with the draft bill suggesting a much stricter process from 1 March 2021 onward.

“Members of preservation funds and retirement annuity funds may withdraw from such funds if they formally emigrate from South Africa for exchange control purposes and their emigration is approved by the South African Reserve Bank,” said ENSAfrica.

However, it was announced in the 2020 Budget Review that the concept of emigration for exchange control purposes will be phased out.

“As a result, the requirement of formal emigration will be removed and a new requirement for the withdrawal of lump-sum benefits from these retirement funds is proposed, effective from 1 March 2021 – namely, that the person is not a resident (i.e. for tax purposes) for an uninterrupted period of three years or longer.

“It appears that this requirement is intended to apply to three consecutive tax years, although the amendment refers simply to years.”

Changes 

Jean du Toit, head of Tax Technical at Tax Consulting SA, said that under the current rules taxpayers can withdraw their retirement funds prior to their retirement date, upon emigration for exchange control purposes.

This emigration process must be recognised by the South African Reserve Bank in a process known as ‘financial emigration’, he said.

Du Toit said that under the new bill, reference to the emigration process is substituted with a new test that requires a person to prove they have been non-resident for tax purposes for an unbroken period of at least three years.

“This new test will apply from 1 March 2021. How this must be proved other than ‘financial emigration’ remains unclear at this stage.

“Practically, after the effective date, your retirement benefits will be locked in South Africa for at least three years. The proposed amendment signals a big policy shift from a fiscal perspective, but this is one piece to a bigger puzzle that should have those who seek to emigrate on high alert.”

Based on daily interaction with employers, executives and expatriates, Du Toit said that the following groups of people should give this change careful consideration:

  • Does it remain prudent for South African executives to keep taking a tax break and maximising their South African approved retirement savings?
  • Where you have large retirement savings, the opportunity will soon be over to make best possible investment decisions – soon some will go towards cheaper access to finance.
  • South Africans looking to leave in the next couple of years will benefit from at least expediting their process on retirement savings, being they are locked in for 3 years.
  • South Africans who have already left, but who have not yet done financial emigration, should consider doing this within the next 6 months before the window closes.
  • Those who have already financially emigrated, but left investments behind, should reconsider their position.
  • South Africans with children or other foreign beneficiaries, should relook at their investments and to align with this new landscape

www.samigration.com

International travel ‘top of agenda’ as Mbalula looks into airlines breaking Covid-19 regulations

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says some airlines are not

complying with Covid-19 regulations.

 

He says there is no enforcement of the use of masks and sanitisers.

Mbalula says government is considering allowing international travel.

 

 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says concerns have been raised

regarding Covid-19 non-compliance on certain airlines.

 

Mbalula was speaking at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg

on Saturday where he inspected its adherence to Covid-19 regulations and

directions.

 

 

“I received a complaint that some of the airlines are not observing the

regulations on board and they have totally lapsed in relation to the

regulations.

 

“There is no enforcement of masks, there is no sanitising and all of

that, we want to deal with that,” Mbalula said.

 

“We can’t allow airlines to break the measures

have been set by government in relation to observing stringent measures

when it comes to safety on board.”

 

www.samigration.com

Scalabrini’s ‘abandonment’ court case challenges constitutionality of South African refugee laws

 

On 17 June 2020, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, represented by Norton Rose Fulbright South  Africa Inc, will be heard in the Western Cape High Court regarding certain sections of South Africa’s recently-changed, controversial refugee laws. Sections of the refugee law now mean that asylum-seekers who’s documentation expires for thirty days or more face arrest and deportation, as their claims would be considered ‘abandoned’. These people – who have sought refuge and safety in South Africa – could be deported to danger or death in their countries of origin for no reason other than they were a month late in renewing a visa.

Our case seeks to declare pertinent sections of South Africa’s recently changed refugee law to be set aside and declared unconstitutional.

Abandonment of asylum claims

In January 2020, we expressed deep concern over the Refugee Amendment Act, which came into force on 1 January 2020. This Act came into force upon the signing and Gazetting of the Refugee Regulations. Several aspects of the new law undermine asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights.

Of particular and urgent concern are the so-called ‘abandonment clauses’. We are challenging the constitutionality of Sections 22(12) and (13) of the Refugee Amendment Act and Regulation 9 of the Refugee Regulations. These sections of the Refugee Amendment Act and Regulations effectively mean that the claim of an asylum-seeker in South Africa ‘must’ be considered ‘abandoned’ if their asylum seeking visa expires for 30 days or more.

If there are no ‘compelling reasons’ around why an asylum seeker holds and expired permit, these persons would be treated as ‘illegal foreigners’ and risk facing arrest and deportation. The Refugee Amendment Act also prevents that person from re-applying for asylum in South Africa – which seems to run against international refugee law.

The difficulties of ensuring a valid asylum seeker visa

In the daily work of The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, we consult with many asylum-seekers who, despite their best efforts to extend their asylum seeker visas, are simply unable to do so.

Remaining on a valid asylum seeker visa is no easy feat: Many asylum seekers face long journeys to Refugee Reception Offices (RRO) to apply for an extension of their permit. Depending on their nationality, they may only approach a RRO on certain days. Should they manage to arrive on the right day, under-staffed Refugee Reception Offices result in long snaking queues. Not everyone is attended to. Asylum seeker visas are extended for anything between a month and six months, meaning the process described above must be undertaken on a regular basis.

The Department of Home Affairs has itself confirmed that the asylum process is subject to colossal administrative delays: the process of considering an asylum application takes, on average, more than 5 years.

Provisions run counter to South African constitution and international law

The ‘abandonment’ provisions of the Refugee Amendment Act run counter to the fundamental legal and constitutional basis of refugee law, namely the right of non-refoulement. This is a fundamental of international and national refugee law that prevents states from forcibly returning a person to a country or place where they would face reasonable risk of harm or death.

The provisions allow for a person with a valid asylum claim to be returned to their country of origin to face persecution merely because they have failed to meet a procedural requirement.

The consequences of this system in South Africa will be devastating. Thousands of people from across the continent, and the world, would be barred from asylum for no reason other than they were a month late in renewing a visa.

Our demand

Our case requests that these Sections 22(12) and (13) of the Refugee Amendment Act and Regulation 9 of the Refugee Regulations are declared unconstitutional and invalid, and that they are set aside.

www.samigration.com

Young adults born in SA denied right to apply for citizenship

Citizenship as a tool of exclusion was a staple of apartheid-era oppression in South Africa. It was with this in mind that the opening words of the Freedom Charter and later the preamble of the Constitution proclaimed, ‘South Africa belongs to all who live in it’.

Unlike the US or our neighbour Lesotho, South Africa does not confer citizenship simply because you were born in its territory – there must be a further tie to the country. Children born to South African citizens (whether one or both parents) are automatically citizens, and children born and registered to foreign parents who were admitted for permanent residence qualify for citizenship when they turn 18 if they have lived in South Africa their whole life.

But what about the many children born in South Africa to parents who were neither South African citizens nor foreigners admitted for permanent residence?

www.samigration.com

Ramaphosa hints to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in the coming week

President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated the **National Coronavirus  Command  Council will consider submissions on the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions.

He says he is planning to address the nation in the next week.

The president says the government has received submissions from the  religious section, the tourism sector, sports fraternity and entertainers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given the strongest indication yet there will be a further relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions.

He confirmed the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had received submissions from the religious section, the tourism sector, the sports fraternity and entertainers.

In an engagement with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday night, Ramaphosa said the country should “watch the space” in the coming week.

“As the National Coronavirus Command Council, we are having to evaluate a number of proposals that have been put to us by a number of sectors of society. Religious leaders have come to us and asked that we consider extending the number of people who should be in worship. It should no longer be based on 50 people in a room only it should be based on 50% of the room.”

He said they would give consideration to all the proposals before the government and do an evaluation of the rate of Covid-19 infections.

“This is where we will get advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee as well as from Natjoints which is the real engine of monitoring our coronavirus approach. We will give consideration to all that,” Ramaphosa added.

The country was placed on alert Level 2 of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 on August 18, which lifted most restrictions to the economy.

International borders remain closed and large gatherings of more than 50 people are still prohibited.

While the country has seen a steady decline in Covid-19 infections there are concerns about the accuracy of its recorded death toll.

Ramaphosa said the government had not taken advice on wrong data.

“Yes, it is possible that records of people who have died from Covid-19-related diseases could be a lot more but we have dealt with those numbers. There’s always a margin of error. But the data in my view has been spot on,” he said.

Ramaphosa added the vaccine developed in response to the coronavirus should not be hogged by more developed countries.

“The vaccine that would be developed should not be nationalised … by your rich countries who have the capabilities and the fire power. Of course, there is a cost attached to it but it should not be an excessive price attached to it.”

*Economic recovery*

He said South Africa had entered the pandemic on a “weak wicket” with an economy already in the red

Ramaphosa pledged an economic recovery plan to deal with the devastation brought on by the pandemic was on its way.

He said the timeline was “soonest”, within two to three weeks. “Government to a large degree has run out of money and we will have to cobble money together but fortunately some aspects of this recovery plan will be funded through a variety of methods. Private sector will play a key role, government will play a key role and we will all need to put shoulder to wheel.

“I have said this to the social partners who wanted a little bit of extension that we need to move forward so that we are able to put the plan to the nation.”

When asked about possible changes to his executive, Ramaphosa skirted around the issue.

“You want to know if there will be changes in Cabinet … I don’t know.

Would you like to see changes?”

www.samigration.com

South African Spousal Visa

spouseThis type of South Africa Spouse or life partner permit is available to people in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships and can be applied for as either a spouse temporary residence permit or a permanent residence permit depending on the length of the marriage or relationship in question.

Foreigners who are spouses of South African citizensor permanent resident holders may apply for permanent residence. To obtain permanent residence, you would have to have been with your partner for more than 5 years.

Being one of the most progressive countries in the world in recognizing same-sex couples and affording them equal rights to that of heterosexual unions South Africa grants spousal permits to life partners in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships.

  • The spousal permit is classified under the relative’s visa category and is renewable.
  • The spousal visa is issued for a period of 36 months at a time. An added factor is the expiry date of the passport , ie the visa cannot be longer than expiry date of passport.
  • It is a temporary residency visa and is only issued to foreign nationals who can prove a committed relationship with a South African citizen or person holding permanent residency.
  • The couple must be able to prove a relationship longer than two years

If you would like to study or work while in the Republic you may do so but you would have to apply for working rights to be added to your visa. Persons on a spousal permit may also only apply to have either study, or business or working rights added to their visa, but not all three. This means that if you added a working rights endorsement to your visa you may only work for an employer.

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