South African businesses must face the challenge of ensuring inclusive growth so that all citizens can experience the benefit of a thriving economy, Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan said at a business summit in Johannesburg on Monday.
Gordhan was delivering an address at the India-South Africa business summit taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre.
He drew parallels between the two nations, noting that they share common platforms such as membership of BRICS, the G20 and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“We have to raise the bar as India and South Africa, particularly if we proclaim to be the children of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. We have got to ask ourselves what inclusive growth means for our small 55 million population and India’s 1.3 billion population, and indeed probably the 6 billion people who stand marginalised in most economies and countries in the world,” he said.
“Inequality remains a challenge both in the Western world, in the developed world and our own countries.”
Gordhan said that under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa was experiencing a “new dawn” which had created what he called “an immense new spirit” in the country, and boosted confidence in the business community. Public trust in SA institutions was also on the up, he said.
He challenged business and government to consider what it would take to continue to increase public trust and confidence further. He said improving public trust has to do with people seeing the impact of investment and growth in their lives.
“If people without water get water, if people without shelter get shelter, if young people without hope and jobs get more hope and jobs, then we will make a difference in the lives of people and earn their confidence as well.”
Gordhan, who was named Minister of Public Enterprises in Ramaphosa's first Cabinet, said it is important to consider how the benefits of GDP growth could accrue to all citizens. “As President Cyril Ramaphosa said this new dawn means citizens must benefit from what government does and what the private sector does.”
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies also shared views on Ramaphosa's 'new dawn' in his address.
“SA is also on a new economic path which our President Cyril Ramaphosa has called a new dawn. This new dawn is underpinned by improving investor and consumer confidence,” he said.
Davies argued that signs of growing investor and consumer confidence in SA were due to the fact that challenges of the past were being dealt with and that a “new broom” was sweeping away issues of governance and better performance at state-owned enterprises.
Davies was optimistic about SA’s economic performance, calling growth forecasts “the floor” from which to build and improve on, as opposed to being a limiting ceiling.
Apart from considering multilateral trade agreements, partnering countries should work together to address developmental and inclusive growth he explained. Trade should serve these ideals, as opposed to “trumping” them.* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER