‘Input needed on special economic zone’

2012-01-16 13:04

The draft Special Economic Zones Bill, which aims to improve the concept of industrial development zones, is open for public comment.

“The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) programme is one of the most critical instruments that can be used to advance government’s strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development, and job creation,” Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told reporters in Pretoria today.

The bill aimed to improve on the Industrial Development Zones (IDZ) Programme introduced in 2000.

The IDZ programme led to the establishment of four zones – Coega outside Port Elizabeth, East London, Richard’s Bay, and OR Tambo International Airport, which was not yet operational.

A review in 2007 found a number of problems with the IDZs.

Davies said these included a design structure that favoured only a few regions, ad hoc planning, inadequate co-ordination between government agencies, and inadequate financing arrangements which made long-term planning tricky.

“The Special Economic Zones policy and bill were motivated by the need to urgently address [these] challenges within the broader framework of accelerating industrial development, economic growth, and job creation,” Davies said.

The SEZ policy would allow for the designation of different types of economic zones.

At the moment, the IDZs were export-oriented and therefore found near ports and airports.

However, SEZs would not necessarily have to be export oriented and could be based anywhere.

Davies said SEZs allowed for a broader range of activities, such as science and technology parks.

To resolve the problem of ad hoc funding, the bill proposed setting up an SEZ fund which would finance feasibility studies as well as offer incentives.

The bill sought to set out more clearly an approach to governance and planning for economic development zones, Davies said.
It also aimed to cut red tape.

The existing IDZs would be catered for under the new legislation.

Davies said his department intended tabling the bill this year and to have it passed by Parliament by the end of the year.

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