Mboweni invites Harvard economists to pick apart his plans to boost growth

Harvard University economists Professors Ricardo Hausmann and Robert Lawrence will on Friday meet with Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, and other government officials in Pretoria, to stress-test proposals to boost SA’s economic growth.  

Between 2006 and 2008 Hausmann led a panel of international economists, which included Lawrence, to advise National Treasury on measures to accelerate SA's growth.

The event, organised by Mboweni, will also be attended by Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and National Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane, among others. 

Treasury said in a statement on Thursday that the professors, together with other economists from academia and business, would be asked to give their thoughts on government proposals to boost growth.

"Discussions at the colloquium will place particular emphasis on interventions that encourage new models and paradigm shifts in support of faster economic growth. The outcome of the colloquium will form the basis of economic policy proposals to be submitted to Cabinet for its consideration in the new year," the statement said.

While the country has officially exited the recession, SA’s GDP growth rate for 2018 is expected to be between just 0.5% and 0.8%, according to the World Bank, IMF and SA Reserve Bank projections.

This is only a fraction of the 5.4% per annum growth rate called for in the National Development Plan, in order to significantly dent SA’s high unemployment rate and decrease poverty and inequality.

Hausmann is director of Harvard's Center for International Development, and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Kennedy School of Government.

His colleague Robert Lawrence, who was born in Johannesburg and emigrated to the US in 1971, is the Albert L Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment at Harvard Kennedy School.

Mboweni and Mogajane will provide opening remarks on Friday morning to the media, before discussions behind closed doors. 

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