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BUSA welcomes SONA

Busi­ness Uni­ty South Africa (BUSA) has wel­comed Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) which focused on the econ­o­my.

“BUSA wel­comes the President’s focus on the econ­o­my and trans­for­ma­tion, as well as his unequiv­o­cal endorse­ment of the South African Reserve Bank’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly enshrined man­date and inde­pen­dence,” said Busi­ness Uni­ty on Fri­day.

Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa deliv­ered SONA to a joint sit­ting of the Nation­al Assem­bly and Nation­al Coun­cil of Provinces on Thurs­day night.

The non-prof­it com­pa­ny, rep­re­sent­ing cross-cut­ting organ­ised busi­ness inter­ests, said the SONA came at a time when South Africa is at an eco­nom­ic-junc­tion, under­scored by pedes­tri­an growth, high lev­els of unem­ploy­ment and endem­ic inequal­i­ty.

“It is against this back­drop that BUSA believes that there needs to be recog­ni­tion among social part­ners that the coun­try is in cri­sis, and that SA Inc must mount a col­lec­tive effort to reverse this trend.

“Social con­tracts must form the core of this effort, and we will be doing all we can to strength­en rela­tions with gov­ern­ment, labour and civ­il soci­ety to ensure a con­cert­ed effort,” said the NGO.


In his first SONA in the sixth admin­is­tra­tion, Pres­i­dent Ram­pa­hosa announced that gov­ern­ment will soon table a Spe­cial Appro­pri­a­tion Bill aimed at allo­cat­ing finan­cial sup­port to pow­er util­i­ty Eskom, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thurs­day.

The Pres­i­dent said Eskom, which is cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing finan­cial chal­lenges, is vital to the South African econ­o­my and can­not be allowed to fail.

BUSA wel­comed the pro­nounce­ments on Eskom, say­ing it is broad­ly in align­ment with busi­ness’ view on how to deal with the crises engulf­ing the pow­er util­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly the immi­nent appoint­ment of a chief restruc­tur­ing offi­cer.

How­ev­er, BUSA explained that it was con­cerned that no time­frames were being announced by the Pres­i­dent on the mat­ter.

It urged the Pres­i­dent to pub­licly announce a clear time­frame with mile­stones, for the imple­men­ta­tion of rec­om­men­da­tions of the Advi­so­ry Pan­el.

In his address, Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa said it is essen­tial to strength­en SOEs in order to ensure that the state is able to effec­tive­ly enable eco­nom­ic and social devel­op­ment.

BUSA said a com­pre­hen­sive plan and strat­e­gy on state-owned enter­pris­es is still out­stand­ing, even as the con­ta­gion spreads and pos­es a major risk to pub­lic finances, which increas­es the spec­tre of a sov­er­eign cred­it down­grade.

Focus on skills, edu­ca­tion

The NGO also wel­comed the SONA’s focus on edu­ca­tion, skills and health.

“A fit-for-pur­pose edu­ca­tion and skills frame­work will be a key enabler of inno­va­tion and job cre­ation. Con­verse­ly, the poor state of the country’s edu­ca­tion sys­tem and its skills mis­match with indus­try demand have been iden­ti­fied as the main hin­drances to South Africa real­is­ing its eco­nom­ic poten­tial.”

Eth­i­cal lead­er­ship

BUSA also wel­comed the empha­sis on capa­ble and eth­i­cal lead­er­ship.

“It is only through capa­ble and eth­i­cal lead­er­ship that the coun­try will be able to regain lost ground and start mak­ing inroads on its myr­i­ad chal­lenges,” it said.

Visa reg­u­la­tions

On visa reg­u­la­tions, busi­ness wel­comed the changes to the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions, which it says imped­ed tourism and hin­dered South Africa’s abil­i­ty to attract scarce skills.

“How­ev­er, we urge the Pres­i­dent to sus­pend the cur­rent reg­u­la­tions which have made it dif­fi­cult for tourists to vis­it and skills to come into the coun­try. “The gov­ern­ment must address this with urgency and in con­sul­ta­tion with social part­ners.”

Gov­ern­ment also announced that it will dou­ble inter­na­tion­al tourist arrivals to 21 mil­lion by 2030.

This will be achieved through the renew­al of the country’s brand, intro­duc­ing a world-class visa regime and a sig­nif­i­cant focus on Chi­nese and Indi­an mar­kets and air arrivals from the rest of the con­ti­nent.

Nation­al Devel­op­ment Plan, social com­pact

BUSA said gov­ern­ment must make good on its promise to place the Nation­al Devel­op­ment Plan (NDP) as the point of depar­ture of eco­nom­ic poli­cies to ensure align­ment in action and the design of pol­i­cy and reg­u­la­tions.

Adopt­ed in 2012, the NDP aims to elim­i­nate pover­ty and reduce inequal­i­ty by 2030.

He bemoaned that with ten years to go before 2030, South Africa has not made ade­quate progress in meet­ing NDP tar­gets.

He said that unless extra­or­di­nary mea­sures are tak­en, the coun­try will not realise Vision 2030.

“BUSA wel­comes the President’s com­mit­ment to a social com­pact in the nation­al inter­est and we stand ready to work with him, but with­in a con­text of tak­ing hard deci­sions and unequiv­o­cal mes­sages that build investor con­fi­dence,” said BUSA. —

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