I have listened to President Ramaphosa’s announcement about the SA lockdown. France and Italy recently implemented similar measures, so hopefully his plan will work. Let’s pray to God it does.
The virus is a threat, but unemployment and hunger can kill many more if we let the economy fail. As accountants this job is now ours. Lockdown does not mean shutting your doors. It means going online. So let’s do this!
“When the going gets tough the tough gets going” – in 21 days we will be fitter and leaner and ready to take over the world.
We need to make sure our clients and their businesses can keep on operating. Now is not the time to hide, but to fight.
The President announced a number of funding interventions. Let’s focus on these and not the lockdown (that just means we move offices!):
- Support the vulnerable – a Solidarity Fund has been created by government to combat the spread of the virus and support affected lives. Go here to help fund it.
- A SME fund paid for by the Rupert and Oppenheimer family to the tune of R2 billion.
- Regulations to protect the food supply chain, so no food hoarding is necessary.
- A safety net for SMEs in informal settlements.
- Old age pensions and disability grants to be made available earlier.
- A special dispensation for companies that are in distress. This will provide a temporary employment relief scheme to avoid retrenchments of employees. Commercial banks exempted from the Competition Act to allow for co-operation in providing debt relief.
- UIF funds to be extended to workers in SMEs and other vulnerable firms and whose companies cannot provide support.
- Assisting business that may be in distress: the provision of a tax subsidy up to R500 pm for employees earning below R6500 pm.
- Accelerated employment tax incentive reimbursements (monthly instead of twice a year).
- Tax-compliant businesses with turnover of less than R50 million will be allowed to withhold 20% PAYE and provisional tax liabilities without penalties and interest.
- Temporary reduction to UIF.
- Small Business Development made R500 million available to distressed SMEs.
- Industrial Development Corporation and DTI to make R3 billion funding available for distressed and vulnerable firms.
- The Department of Tourism has made R200 million available to assist SMEs in distress due to travel restrictions.
- Reserve bank has cut the Repo rate by 1%.
- The Reserve Bank to provide additional liquidity to banks.
- Restrictions on immigration and foreign nationals entering the country.
A plan for your survival
So here is the plan for your firm:
- Have a meeting with your family and discuss the new restrictions and make sure your family is calm. They now need your leadership and not your despair.
- Write an email to all your clients, and potential clients informing them of the funds made available by government.
- Offer your services to them and help them apply.
- Get to know their business circumstances and help them manage their affairs for the next couple of months. You are more than just their accountant. You have secret knowledge that they need.
- Do the SAIBA Business Rescue Practitioner licence as some of your clients would need to go into business rescue.
- Become a Certified Intuit QuickBooks Online Accountant through www.saiba.academy and start using their online practice management tool to conduct your practice remotely – it’s free and it gives you access to SME client referrals.
- Identify foreigners that now can’t enter the country and help them run their local companies.
Remember that the Covid-19 virus is most dangerous to the elderly and people with immune deficiencies. 90% of people that get the virus have very minor symptoms. So our best defence is building our own antibodies. We should not overburden hospitals.
Let’s support the security agencies and health care workers in their difficult tasks but above all let’s do business – a virus will not stop us being accountants. Nothing and nobody will take this away from us.
Nicolaas “fighting fit” van Wyk, CEO SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba)