‘Five million jobs will be hard to achieve’

Government’s plan to create five million jobs through its new growth path framework for South Africa would be difficult to achieve, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said today.

“Sacci believes that it will be difficult to achieve the target of creating five million jobs within five years even though the sectors identified for specific attention are those that have the potential to contribute significantly to its attainment,” said Sacci president Chose Choeu in a statement.

Yesterday, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel unveiled government’s New Growth Path economic strategy which aimed to create five million jobs over the next decade.

Choeu said to achieve this, the government would have to implement policies and incentives to grow the small, medium and micro-enterprise (SMME) sector.

It would also have to cut the red tape that hindered small business development.

“It will also be very important that the commitments and milestones identified in the growth path are adhered to, a task that will have to be undertaken by the monitoring and evaluation unit in the presidency.”

The New Growth Path set targets for scarce and key skills including the aim to produce 30 000 more engineers by 2014, and 50 000 more artisans by 2015.

Choeu said Sacci supported this focus on engineering and artisan skills – something it adopted as a key motion at its annual convention last month.

“Sacci also supports the focus on the green economy as this will assist our country to reach the millennium development and sustainable development goals to which it is committed.”

However, the organisation was concerned at the possible capping of wage increases through legislation.

“Such a move could discourage the improvement of productivity and deflect foreign direct investment elsewhere,” Choeu said.
Sacci would only support the voluntary implementation of such restraints.

The growth plan included a proposal, for discussion with business and labour, for moderate wage settlements linked to clear commitments by business to save jobs, create new jobs and address inequality, Patel said yesterday.

The document proposed “moderate wage settlements” for those earning between R3 000 and R20 000 a month, “possibly to inflation plus a modest real increase”, with “inflation-level increases for those earning over R20 000 a month”.

Further, it suggested that pay and bonuses for senior managers and executives earning over R550 000 a year be capped.

Sacci was developing a strategy on the role it could play to achieve government’s objectives.

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