Northern Cape Premier prioritises job creation, economic opportunities

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Northern Cape - Northern Cape Premier Dipuo Peters has prioritised the creation of jobs and expanding economic opportunities in her State of the Province address.

"This coming period we will expand the reach and effectiveness of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) interventions and the National Youth Service Programme targeting unemployment and unskilled youth.

"In this way, community based provision of services must become a central delivery mechanism, while addressing the skills deficit and poverty levels," The premier said, delivering her 2009 State of the Province Address on Thursday.

She said the focus will remain on implementing integrated and well coordinated employment programmes targeting women, especially in rural areas, adding that if you employ women, you feed families.

More support, she said, will be given to developing small holdings and cooperatives.

"The provincial government will also develop a new and better strategy that will focus on the development of small holdings, proper support to cooperatives and similar initiatives, with dedicated capacity to rural areas in the form of financing, extension services and business development services."

In response to the weaknesses identified in the Ten Year Review, she said the provincial government has prioritised increasing spending towards economic services in order to stimulate economic growth and development.

"On average, we have increased the allocation for economic services from 10.2 percent in 2004 to 14.2 percent in 2008, with education and health remaining our biggest spending areas, at 38.9 percent and 27.5 percent respectively," she said.

She added that the provincial economy had recorded successive years of growth, recording 3.1 percent in 2006, turning the tide on the negative growth rate of -1.7 percent recorded as recently as 2001.

"We have actively sought and worked to broaden the economic base and activities across all sectors such as agro-processing, tourism and manufacturing."

Statistics South Africa has recorded a provincial unemployment rate of 24.2 percent, down from 26.3 percent in 2005.

The premier said while the decrease in unemployment was welcomed, the challenge of both women and youth unemployment needed careful consideration and action.