Business critical for NDP – Ramaphosa

2013-09-04 11:47

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Business and the financial services sector have a critical role to play in implementing the National Development Plan (NDP), ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has said.

“The implementation of the NDP is not an exercise in compliance but rather an exercise in transformation and working together,” he told the Banking Association summit in Johannesburg today.

“The task at hand requires a different way of working. The NDP challenges us to make effective use of all of our resources, especially our people, and challenges us to work together to find solutions to the difficulties that we face.”

Ramaphosa, who is also the deputy chairperson of the National Planning Commission that developed the NDP, said the financial services sector needed to play a role in helping small to medium enterprises.

The NDP focused on the services sector as a real generator of jobs and, although it was believed that small and medium enterprises would be a big contributor to job creation, big-ticket enterprises could also create thousands of jobs.

With the right approach, the number of start-up businesses that failed could be reduced and big businesses could incorporate smaller enterprises into their own supply chain.

There was massive potential for companies to transform their supply chains and support new platforms.

This could be done through small-business incubator models, and helping these businesses gain access to finance.

“Banks need to investigate feasible ways to extend credit to small and medium businesses,” Ramaphosa said.

“Following the global financial crisis ... there is an aversion by banks to take up certain types of risk – this is understandable and prudent. However, banks need to find solutions.

“We need to expand the notion of angel funding and various other mechanisms.”

The sector could also contribute to infrastructure development, where private funding would need to be sourced because public finance was limited.

“We’ve embarked as a country on an unbelievable dream of spending over a trillion rand on infrastructure development. And this is where the financial services sector needs to play an important role,” he said.

There was a need for public-private partnerships in infrastructure, even though these partnerships could sometimes be difficult.

As funders of such partnerships, financial institutions had a great deal of experience and expertise that could be used to ensure that future public-private partnerships generated value.

Many of these issues needed to be debated.

The NDP has been criticised by the African National Congress’ alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions, especially the economic chapter in the plan.

The alliance held a summit at the weekend where the NDP was discussed.

Ramaphosa said those parts of the NDP on which there was consensus should be implemented, while work continued on the other parts.

“Rather than be defensive about the document or call for it to be scratched ... we should identify where the plan has gaps ... every plan in the universe has shortcomings and gaps,” he said.

“We have a plan which can be implemented. But then again, for this plan to be implemented we need South Africans to do what they have always done – work together.”

Ramaphosa urged the banking councils and the financial services sector to engage with government.

“You have to kiss a frog many times in order to get results ... one day the implementation of the plan will be more comprehensive,” he said.

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