Business, labour welcome SONA

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pretoria - Business has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA), saying that it demonstrated the first step towards implementing the National Development Plan (NDP).

Delivering the SONA on Thursday in Parliament, Zuma said several of the country’s infrastructure projects had already kicked off. He said by the end of next month, government would have spent about R860 billion on infrastructure, starting from 2009.

Among the projects is the construction of the first phase of the Mokolo and Crocodile River Water Augmentation, which will provide the water required for the Matimba and Medupi power stations.

“We also welcome infrastructure projects that have begun to gain traction, where the President reiterated to fast-track many of the projects that the Presidential Infrastructural Coordinating Committee had announced,” said Business Unity SA (BUSA).

BUSA believed that the private sector would play a bigger role in helping to speed-up the implementation of the infrastructure programme.

However, the body said it expected to see how the NDP would be financed, “as this would be a challenging task in finding workable solutions to the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality”.

Neren Rau, CEO of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), said the promotion of the NDP as the national long term plan was welcomed, and that the NDP had solutions to immediate challenges.

President Zuma said one of the key projects for the Presidency currently was to get government departments to pay small business within 30 days.

“BUSA welcomes government’s initiative to get its departments to pay SMMEs within 30 days. This intervention will make sure many enterprises don’t go under,” it said.

Zuma also announced that a Presidential Remuneration Commission would be set up to investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the state to all its employees.

This was welcomed by labour, which had been keen to hear how government would review the minimum wages of workers covered by sectoral determinations.

Earlier this month, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant announced that the new minimum wage for farmworkers has been pegged at R105 per day. The new determination will be effective from 1 March 2013.  

This was also welcomed by business.

“We welcome the establishment of the commission to look at state remuneration, especially for teachers,” said Rau.

“We are happy with the announcement of the commission to investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the state to all its employees,” said the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu).

The union also called on government to engage with organised labour in the public sector on the terms of reference for this commission. -