Ramaphosa outlines economic recovery plan
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa announced new measures to revitalise the economy through multibillion-rand infrastructure projects, energy supply security and clamping down on corruption.
He said this was part of the government’s strategy to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our response to the pandemic was three-pronged – firstly, a robust health response, secondly, social and economic relief and now economic recovery.
“Our country had immense challenges for a number of years before coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic has worsened these challenges. Poverty and inequality have deepened, threatening many South Africans with hunger and a sudden loss of income,” he said.
Ramaphosa said according to the modelling by the National Treasury, the implementation of this plan would raise growth to around 3% on average over the next 10 years.
He also announced that the government had decided to extend the R350 unemployment grant for another three months, but said the fiscus would not be able to sustain this beyond the extension.
The president said studies had shown that the grant and the top-up of existing grants were vital in reducing the impact of the pandemic on levels of poverty and hunger. He added that discussions on
the basic income grant should continue in the country.
Speaking on crime, Ramaphosa said decisive action against crime and corruption was essential to inclusive growth.
“Law enforcement agencies are being strengthened and provided with adequate resources to enable the identification and swift prosecution of corruption and fraud. We wish to assure all South Africans that there will be no political interference with the work of law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Political parties were sceptical of the plan and said the government needed to implement existing programmes to reignite growth in the economy.
DA MP and spokesperson on finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said the country needed economic reforms.
“He should have used this speech to take on the enemies of growth and reform. And he needed to show exactly how, and when, the promised reforms would be achieved. Without this detail, the president will get zero benefit of the doubt,” said Hill-Lewis.
United Democratic Movement chief whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said Ramaphosa would not achieve the 3% growth in the next few years. He said this was pie in the sky.
“Unless there are drastic changes in this country, it’s unlikely we will achieve the 3% growth,” he said.
Kwankwa said there was nothing in the plan as the government has failed to implement previous plans.
IFP MP Mzamo Buthelezi said Ramaphosa must clamp down on corruption and fix state-owned entities (SOE).
Buthelezi said the president did not provide specific details on his infrastructure projects and that is what MPs wanted to hear.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen greets President Cyril Ramaphosa at the start of the special Parliamentary sitting session where the president unveiled an economic recovery plan for South Africa. | IAN LANDSBERG