Business Unity SA (Busa) said its Business Economic Indaba this week would try to find solutions, particularly to the Eskom issue which has significant operational and financial concerns for the country.
Included in the discussions will be how to avert any further credit rating downgrades.
Busa chief executive Tanya Cohen said one of the key discussions at the indaba – at Gallagher Estate on Tuesday – is how to bail out Eskom without getting a downgrade to “junk” status from Moody’s Investors Service, which is the last major rating agency that assesses the government at investment grade.
“Frank” discussions will also be held on the budget.
Eskom is looking for a R100 billion bailout plus massive increases in power prices.
Speaking to City Press on Friday, Cohen said Eskom remained the biggest risk to the economy and business needed to come up with ways to collaborate with the government while avoiding any negative impact on the economy.
“We think we are very close to a downgrade. It [a bailout] can’t come from the tariff hikes that it [Eskom] applied for because the challenges are twofold; first is the operational and the other the fiscal challenges.
“We have to come up with a viable solution before we take a step closer to an International Monetary Fund [bailout].
“Either we take our own medicine and do what we have to or we will have an international organisation coming in,” she said.
She said business is willing to strengthen collaboration with the government in at least three priority areas to get the economy onits feet.
The first, Cohen said, is on the policy environment and framework, especially relating to land and energy, among other topics.
“The second focal area is in infrastructure related to energy, water, transport and ICT [information and communication technology] and we want to find workable collaborative solutions and investment in that space,” she said.
The third area of collaboration is in basic education, said Cohen, adding that there was already an effective partnership through the National Education Collaboration Trust.
“We know the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] is preparing for the state of the nation address and we want to look at the state of the economy. We are fortunate we are being listened to by the president,” Cohen said.
Among the speakers who will address the Busa indaba are Ramaphosa; chief executive of the JSE, Nicky Newton-King; CEO of Telkom Sipho Maseko; Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala; Black Management Forum president Andile Nomlala; and several ministers.
During the indaba the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration-Busa Small Business webtool will be launched.
It is hoped the webtool will help small business and the sector to navigate labour-related issues, including employment contracts.