Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled the recovery plan to set South Africa on a new growth path, which involves forming a social pact with different social partners.
Delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address on Friday evening, Ramaphosa announced the appointment of a Presidential Economic Advisory Council.
The council will draw on the expertise of those in labour, business, civil society and academia, to ensure the implementation of economic policy and to respond better to economic circumstances.
The decision to establish the task force follows the successful engagement of different players in setting a national minimum wage, which will come into force on May 1 this year, Ramaphosa said.
During his address Ramaphosa highlighted that the economy has not grown or created jobs at the pace it should. But he listed some of the progress which has been made, among these being addressing political stability. Ramaphosa said government is committed to policy certainty and consistency.
“There is a greater sense of optimism among our people. Our people are hopeful about the future. Business confidence among South African companies has improved and foreign investors are looking anew at opportunities in our country,” he said.
“Our task, as South Africans, is to seize this moment of hope and renewal, and to work together to ensure that it makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our people,” he said.
Ramaphosa said this requires tough decisions to be made to close the fiscal gap, stabilise debt and restore the health of state-owned enterprises.
Projects to drive the recovery of SA’s economy in 2018 include:
1. Jobs Summit
A Jobs Summit will be convened in the next few months, to help address youth unemployment. The summit should provide practical solutions. This includes ensuring economic growth, better equipped workers and the expansion of economic infrastructure.
2. Investment conference
The investment conference, to be organised within the next three months, should target both domestic and international investors.
3. Revive the manufacturing sector
Ramaphosa said the decline in the sector will be addressed and that the re-industrialisation of the economy will create jobs. “We are going to promote greater investment in key manufacturing sectors through the strategic use of incentives and other measures,” he said.
Government will also introduce a localisation programme for products like textiles, furniture and water meters to be locally procured.
Part of this includes leveraging off special economic zones, to attract foreign and domestic investment to establish industrial hubs and build industrial capabilities, he explained.
4. Supporting black industrialists
There will also be efforts to support black industrialists, investment to develop small businesses in townships and rural areas and open up markets for black entrants through competition policy.
5. Youth Employment Service Initiative
“Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda,” said Ramaphosa.
In March the Youth Employment Service Initiative will be launched to place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy. “Together with our partners in business, we have agreed to create a million such internships in the next three years.”
6. Youth Working Group
Ramaphosa also stressed the importance of having youth raise their views and engage with government. For this reason a Youth Working Group will be established to advanced the interests of young South Africans, he said.
7. Infrastructure investment
Ramaphosa said a team will be set up to speed up the implementation of new projects for water infrastructure, road maintenance and health facilities.
8. Small business development
“We will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs,” said Ramaphosa. Government will also maintain its commitment to set aside 30% of public procurement to small and medium enterprises, as well as township and rural enterprises.
Currently government is finalizsng a small business and innovation fund for start-ups. Efforts will be made to reduce regulatory barriers for small businesses.
Additionally, the Small Enterprise Finance Agency, has launched a scheme to fund entrepreneurs with disabilities.
9. Grow tourism sector
The tourism sector can provide the country with “incredible opportunities”.
The sector sustains 700 000 jobs and has capacity to double in size.
10. Digital Industrial Revolution Commission
Government will establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission to seize the opportunities in the digital industrial revolution.
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