Mboweni's economic plan for SA still not adopted by government - Treasury

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's recent reference to a 2019 economic blueprint, aimed at boosting growth, as a government document appears to be at odds with National Treasury's view of the matter.

According to Treasury, it has not yet been adopted by government.

The document, titled Economic transformation, inclusive growth, and competitiveness: towards an economic strategy for South Africa, was released by National Treasury in August last year. The 77-page document outlines a series of "deliberate and concerted actions" to increase economic growth by up to 3 percentage points per year and create up to a million jobs.

It drew mixed reviews, and by the deadline for comment submissions, some 700 comments had been received.

Last week, Mboweni expressed frustration at the country's slow pace of economic reform.

In a series of posts, took to Twitter to warn that time is of the essence to implement critical strategic and economic reforms in South Africa, adding that there would be "dire consequences" if this did not occur.

He referred his followers to read the economic paper, adding that it was "now [a] government document" and there was "no time for procrastinating".

What are critical Economic Strategic Reforms? Read the National Treasury now Government Document! Let us move Forward! Many Steps at the same Time!! Movement!! No time for procrastinating!!

— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) January 10, 2020

National Treasury, however, has since told Fin24 that the paper in question is the discussion document is still under deliberation and has not yet been adopted as government policy".

It also said not all the ideas were new.

"While some of the ideas articulated in the document are new, some are based on previously-published research and policy papers.

"Some of the proposals therefore, for example, the release of spectrum and reform of the visa regulations to stimulate tourism are already underway or have been completed," Treasury added.

At the time when the paper was released, Treasury described it as "a detailed examination of the structural reforms that can reverse the downward trend in South Africa’s growth potential and competitiveness."

"The bulk of the interventions are realistically executable in the medium term, and include reforms in the telecommunications, agriculture, services, and transport industries. Short-term interventions are important as they lay a foundation for other reforms, while long-term interventions address competitiveness," the economic policy document states.

In December 2019, Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo said government had to implement National Treasury's economic blueprint for the country, despite opposition to it, if South Africa were to attract domestic and foreign investment, boost export performance and be globally competitive.

The finance minister's recent spate of apparently frustrated tweets indicate a possible loss of patience with the slow pace of change he has been pushing for since he took office in 2018, analysts previously told Fin24.

The ruling ANC, however, has issued a warning to Mboweni via a strongly-worded statement to avoid "unfortunate public spats" and not make pronouncements on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC). This followed a lengthy debate the minister initiated on social media earlier this week regarding the mandate and independence of the South African Reserve Bank.  

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