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.”
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.
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. — SAnews.gov.zaFollow us on Social Media