Make sure you’re not trading illegally during lockdown, cautions SA business alliance

The onus is on business owners to make sure that they are compliant with the latest regulations for trading during lockdown, according to Business for South Africa.

The alliance of South Africa business bodies and organisations on Saturday issued a statement cautioning that businesses must make sure they are not trading illegally, this after amendments to the trading regulations during lockdown were introduced earlier this week.

The new regulations allow for mines to come back on stream, partially. Other changes allow for more  call centres to open, including those for retailers and some hardware and car-part stores can operate, Business Insider previously reported. The list of artisans which can offer essential services include locksmiths, glaziers, roof repairers, plumbers, electricians. However, cooked food, cigarettes and alcohol may not yet be sold.

Business for South Africa (B4SA) has encouraged businesses to “tread carefully” when reopening or extending their offerings during this time, especially as there is still uncertainty on what can be regarded as “basic goods”.

“It is essential to avoid potential prosecution that businesses remain aware of changes that occur and take the correct steps to comply with them,” said B4SA’s legal advisor Daniel Pretorius.

Pretorius said that businesses must also be mindful of the consequences of registering as an essential service provider, when in fact they do not provide essential services. “B4SA believes that this process remains voluntary, and that registration does not convert a business which does not provide essential goods or services into one that complies with the regulations,” he explained.

“We, therefore, recommend that businesses act cautiously and ensure that they are in fact compliant and that they provide employee permits only to staff members who are actually needed to provide essential services,” he added.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has revoked permits to businesses, which have found not to be essential service providers.

Furthermore, businesses which successfully received certificates before 17 April, now need to make sure they have revised certificates to continue operating for the extended lockdown period. All businesses must have these new certificates by Monday, 20 April, Fin24 previously reported. 

Citing Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, Pretorius said certificates from the CIPC are available for businesses registered as companies, but sole proprietors and other businesses which provide essential services – as per the regulations – may continue operating.

Compiled by Lameez Omarjee

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