New ideas and policies needed to boost growth as SA convenes economic colloquium

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi

With the South African economy not growing at a favourable rate, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni has convened a colloquium where government officials will present policy proposals to raise the country’s economic growth.

The colloquium, taking place at the South African Reserve Bank Conference Centre in Pretoria on Friday, began with Mboweni explaining that the discussions to be held will place particular emphasis on interventions that encourage new models that will boost economic growth in South Africa.

“We all want South Africa to succeed and that is why we are here. The aim here is to come up with ideas to boost and grow our economy. At some of our Cabinet meetings we have often asked ourselves whether or not we have been pursuing the correct growth path and having correct conversations about the South African economy, and that is one of the things we will look at here,” Mboweni said.

Only two Cabinet ministers were in attendance: the minister of economic development, Ebrahim Patel, as well as minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies.

Mboweni explained that he “did not want too many ministers at the colloquium” because it was not a Cabinet meeting.

“Cabinet ministers will get together on their own in January.”

Other high profile guests included the Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic adviser, Trudi Makhaya.

Representatives from the World Bank, local and international professors, academics, researchers and economists, including private sector experts and members of the farming community will form part of the round table discussions that will contribute to proposals on how to stimulate the country’s economy.

According to Mboweni, during her visit to the country earlier in the week, International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, raised her concerns about the lack of economic growth in South Africa.

“There is poor revenue collection which means we are not able to produce the resources that are needed in the country.

"Another thing is that the population growth continues to increase and therefore the demand on the fiscus increases. The other important thing is that more people are getting marginalised from economic activity,” he said.

Economic development professor at Harvard University, Ricardo Hausmann, added that there is “no formula to economic growth.

“We need to do research by involving South African academics to see what can be done to accelerate growth in the country, because we have also realised that growth over the past five years has not been spectacular,” he said.

Anticipating the outcome of the colloquium, which will carry over to 2019, Mboweni said that he is not sure what will come out from it, “but I am certain that something will come out of it.”

“We will need to have further discussions because no one colloquium can find solutions to everything. In the end implementation will be key. Action must be taken to achieve the desired results.”

According to Mboweni, the colloquium will reconvene in January 2019 for further discussions and further proposals will be made, however, he said that whatever was proposed would only be released and made public in mid-2019.

The colloquium continues behind closed doors this afternoon.


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