Cosatu to Mboweni: Withdraw your incoherent, confused and unreliable plan to bolster economy

Trade union federation Cosatu demanded that National Treasury withdraws its recently released document to encourage economic growth, saying it makes government incoherent, confused and unreliable.

Speaking at a media briefing at its Johannesburg headquarters on Thursday, Cosatu deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said it questioned why the document was released without consultation with Cabinet. 

"In principle, Cosatu is open to all proposals from all quarters about how to address our economic crisis, in particular our rising levels of unemployment. But we have some questions about the draft economic recovery strategy document. 

"The document is trying to exploit our economic crisis by pursuing a right wing agenda that was defeated in several ANC conferences. This document ventures into the domain of other departments and, at the same time, it does not offer any proposed real changes to the fiscal, monetary or other macro-economic policies, including inflation targeting," he said.

READ: Mboweni's economic blueprint 'parks reform tanks' on govt lawn - economist

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi questioned Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's intentions with the document, saying that he was acting like a prime minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa's absence. She added that she was confident that Ramaphosa knew nothing about the release of the document.

"The strategy acknowledges the fuel price regime is stifling economic growth, but fails to say what government should do about it. What happened to the research commissioned by government on a fuel price cap that was supposed to be finalised earlier this year?

"The biggest threat to the economy is the pending collapse of state-owned enterprises, the burgeoning levels of corruption, the loss of R150bn a year to corruption and wasteful expenditure, and declining tax revenues. The strategy talks only about Eskom, but fails to provide concrete plans to stabilise, save and grow the many SOEs on the verge of collapse," Cosatu said in its statement. 

The 77-page report, Economic Transformation, Inclusive Growth and Competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa, includes interventions and reforms to reverse the country's "downward trend" of economic growth. Treasury says the proposals could raise the country's economic growth rate by up to 3% and create as many as a million job opportunities.

READ: SACP expresses 'serious concern' over sudden release over economic policy paper

Speaking to News24 earlier, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe praised the draft outlook for focusing on a more stable macro-economic framework, saying it reflected a broader desire to lessen public sector debt and to boost business confidence.

"It also seems to have a great bias towards labour intensive methods, among others learnerships, and is primarily targeted at the youth," said Mabe, adding that this was a good suggestion.

On Wednesday, Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a Parliamentary briefing, said Treasury had engaged with other ministers and director generals of departments for input before releasing the paper.

The SACP said it had "noted" the report and had "serious concerns". 

Mabe said the ANC itself could only now look at the document, which was published on Tuesday afternoon, and all the different stakeholders had been taken on board.

"We can only make a positive and meaningful contribution when all social partners are involved, at one and each playing a meaningful role towards the South Africa we want," said Mabe.

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