Minister still upbeat about economic strategy

2011-11-05 13:13

The biggest risk that South Africa’s economic policy framework, the New Growth Path (NGP), faces is a failure to deliver key infrastructure – from water and electricity to transport, telecommunications and social infrastructure.

This was according to ­Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who spoke to City Press ahead of the first
announced of the policy being unveiled last year.

In a claim that might be contested by many observers, Patel said the NGP is being implemented “very much so. We are living through the NGP”.

He pointed to President Jacob Zuma’s endorsement of thepolicy and the announcements of the R9-billion jobs fund in the State of the Nation address and in the Budget speech earlier this year.

The minister said government is implementing the policy incrementally rather than in one fell swoop.

Thus far, partners have reached a basic education ­accord which is designed to fix schools. But one observer noted that only government, rather than business or organised ­labour, can actually fix schools.

The parties have also reached a national skills accord that will see companies train outside of their own needs. A local procurement accord has also been reached which commits government, business and labour to 75% local content in their
procurement.

Still to come, ahead of the COP-17 conference towards the end of this month, is the green economy accord, set to be
followed by an enterprise development accord next year.

Patel said government remains confident of meeting its target of creating five?million jobs by 2020. He pointed out that government deliberately avoided setting yearly job-creation targets because job creation will increase exponentially over the next decade.

Patel faces criticism from sections of his backers in the labour federation Cosatu who argue that he is tinkering at the periphery rather than implementing radical change, such as establishing a state-owned bank to fund small entrepreneurs as well as a construction company to drive infrastructure.

He noted that the NGP has already called for the establishment of a bank, though it ­uses more cautious language.

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