Reignit­ing our econ­omy

Vuk'uzenzele - - From The Union Buildings -

In the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress in Fe­bru­ary this year, I an­nounced a range of mea­sures that gov­ern­ment would un­der­take in part­ner­ship with all sec­tors of our so­ci­ety to coun­try on a new path of growth, em­ploy­ment and trans­for­ma­tion.

Since then, we have taken clear steps to re­build in­vestor con­fi­dence in our econ­omy, end cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture, re­store good gov­er­nance at state-owned en­ter­prises and strengthen crit­i­cal pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions.

Even as our coun­try is go­ing through dif­fi­cult eco­nomic chal­lenges we have made progress.

We are re­form­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that is con­ducive to in­vest­ment, and have em­barked on a drive to at­tract $100 bil­lion dol­lars in in­vest­ment by South African and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors over the next five years.

For sev­eral years our econ­omy has not grown at the pace needed to cre­ate enough jobs or lift com­mu­ni­ties out of poverty.

Added to that, our econ­omy has weak­ened in re­cent months, partly due to global fac­tors such as a ris­ing oil price, and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing trade re­la­tions be­tween the US and other ma­jor economies. Emerg­ing mar­kets such as Tur­key and our own have been neg­a­tively im­pacted by th­ese global trends.

Gov­ern­ment is re­spond­ing to th­ese chal­lenges, many of which are out­side our con­trol, to stim­u­late in­clu­sive growth that will ul­ti­mately de­liver the jobs and the bet­ter lives that all South Africans want and de­serve.

Gov­ern­ment knows what it means for fam­i­lies to pack fewer food items into shop­ping trol­leys and bas­kets when prices rise, or what it means for work­ers to stress about taxi fare when fuel prices go up. And when ris­ing prices im­pact on busi­nesses, it is of­ten the liveli­hoods of work­ers that end up be­ing threat­ened.

We want to rid our so­ci­ety and our econ­omy of such stresses and pres­sures, and we want all South Africans to ben­e­fit from growth and devel­op­ment.

In line with this, I re­cently an­nounced an eco­nomic stim­u­lus and re­cov­ery plan that con­sists of five key ar­eas that will help revali­tise our econ­omy. Th­ese are the im­ple­men­ta­tion of growth en­hanc­ing eco­nomic re­forms, repri­ori­ti­sa­tion of pub­lic spend­ing to sup­port job cre­ation, the es­tab­lish­ment of an In­fra­struc­ture Fund, ad­dress­ing ur­gent and press­ing mat­ters in ed­u­ca­tion and health and in­vest­ing in mu­nic­i­pal so­cial in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ment.

We will also pri­ori­tise eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties that will have the great­est im­pact on youth, women and small busi­nesses.

Gov­ern­ment is fast-track­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of key eco­nomic re­forms that will un­lock in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, grow the econ­omy and cre­ate much-needed jobs.

Th­ese in­clude re­vis­ing visa re­quire­ments to boost tourism and at­tract highly skilled for­eign na­tion­als. Tourism plays a role in grow­ing our econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs and has been ear­marked in the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan as one of the core sec­tors for job cre­ation.

The re­vised Min­ing Char­ter will also be im­ple­mented to en­sure that the min­ing in­dus­try is trans­formed and in­clu­sive. By mak­ing it eas­ier for in­vestors – South African and in­ter­na­tional – to en­ter our min­ing sec­tor, we will see more busi­nesses emerg­ing, and more busi­nesses mean more jobs.

We also plan to re­duce the cost of do­ing busi­ness by re­view­ing the prices of elec­tric­ity, port and rail tar­iffs in or­der to boost ex­ports and make South African in­dus­tries more com­pet­i­tive.

Gov­ern­ment is ne­go­ti­a­tion with the cor­po­rate sec­tor to lower data costs so that we can pro­vide re­lief for poor house­holds and in­crease the over­all com­pet­i­tive­ness of the South African econ­omy.

We also want to en­cour­age South Africans to sup­port small busi­ness and co­op­er­a­tives, and to stop buy­ing il­le­gal goods as this is a form of in­di­vid­ual cor­rup­tion which leads di­rectly to job losses.

Gov­ern­ment spend­ing will be repri­or­is­tised to­wards ac­tiv­i­ties that have the great­est im­pact on eco­nomic growth, do­mes­tic de­mand and job cre­ation, par­tic­u­larly for town­ship and ru­ral economies, women and youth.

We will also in­crease sup­port for black com­mer­cial farm­ers through blended fi­nance from the Land Bank, the In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and com­mer­cial banks. This will help to in­crease their en­try into food value chains and ac­cess to in­fra­struc­ture like abat­toirs and feed­lots. In line with this we also want to fi­nalise the sign­ing of 30-year leases to en­able farm­ers to mo­bilise fund­ing for agri­cul­tural devel­op­ment.

To en­sure that our econ­omy is more in­clu­sive, gov­ern­ment will es­tab­lish a town­ship and ru­ral en­trepreneur­ship fund to pro­vide fi­nance to scale up ex­ist­ing projects or pro­vide startup cap­i­tal for new projects.

The san­i­ta­tion sit­u­a­tion in many of our schools is un­ac­cept­able and to ad­dress this, funds will be al­lo­cated to en­sure the speedy com­ple­tion of 1 100 san­i­ta­tion projects in pub­lic schools.

I an­nounced th­ese and a num­ber of other fi­nan­cial and non-fi­nan­cial mea­sures to help re­solve the eco­nomic chal­lenges that we are fac­ing as a coun­try.

I have no doubt that this stim­u­lus and re­cov­ery plan will not only re­verse the slow­down of our econ­omy, but that it will re­sult in a vis­i­ble and sus­tained im­prove­ment in the lives of all South Africans.

As South Africans, we have con­fronted chal­lenges far greater than this be­fore. By work­ing to­gether, we man­aged to end the sys­tem of apartheid and set our coun­try on the path to a peace­ful tran­si­tion to democ­racy.

We must come to­gether once more to grow our econ­omy, cre­ate jobs and trans­form our coun­try.

All South Africans must join hands and make an ex­tra­or­di­nary ef­fort to over­come the eco­nomic chal­lenges we face.

It is, as Madiba said, in our hands.

We also want to en­cour­age South Africans to sup­port

small busi­ness and co­op­er­a­tives,

and to stop buy­ing il­le­gal

goods.

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