Johannesburg – South Africa is facing huge challenges, but there are four things the economy needs right now, says Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.
Speaking at the Progressive Business Forum breakfast at the 54th ANC national conference on Tuesday, he pointed out that much progress has already been made.
He outlined the economic situation in the country as well as the challenges of low growth, a credit rating downgrade and high levels of youth unemployment, among others. But Patel also noted economic strengths such as a robust media, deep financial markets and the resilient democracy.
“We have a lot going for us, we have a lot of challenges, and that’s the complexity of the modern South Africa. Huge progress and big challenges,” he said.
Patel shared four things that need to be addressed urgently to drive further progress.
1. A credible growth story
“We need to have a credible growth story that identifies the sectors of the economy that grow fast and that can create jobs at scale, and do this at a practical scale,” he said.
“We need to transform the economy. This means bringing young people, the energy of any nation, into the economy in larger numbers.
“Ensuring that black South Africans are part of the economy, not only for equity purposes, but because there is a compelling, economic advantage in expanding the talent pool of the economy to cover every South African.”
3. Good governance
The governance challenges - in the public and private sector - must be addressed. “Dealing with corruption and state capture, we must talk openly about these things and deal with issues of corporate collusion.
“The challenge I think is impressed so starkly that we sit today with a storyline that we can change. A storyline on the one hand points to state institutions that are currently under investigation for probity issues, for whether they have ensured integrity in tender processes and how they deal with the private sector. Issues of state capture are important.
“In the private sector we have had the Steinhoff collapse, which has raised serious questions of fraud committed on a large scale in blue chip companies,” said Patel.
He added that allegations against large companies seeking to gain public favour through inappropriate means are among the issues that must be dealt with in South Africa’s robust democracy.
South Africans, business, labour and government must work together to achieve higher levels of growth, said Patel.
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