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One problem with the government's supposed R500bn Covid relief package is that it never was even close to R500bn in reality. A more puzzling and disturbing problem is that even the measures that were put in place to try to keep firms alive and enable them to hold on to staff through the lockdown have seen only limited take-up. Support measures for firms through the tax system, the unemployment insurance system and the banking system were among the biggest line items in the package, together accounting - at least in theory - for close to R300bn. Yet much of that simply hasn't flowed.

So why have firms not taken up what help was on offer? And does that mean the damage to economic capacity and employment will be even worse than we expect?..

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