Big business optimistic about SONA

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address is encouraging to business, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) said on Thursday.

The tone of the President's address, supported by the promise of improved economic activity and growth, is encouraging to business and should promote business confidence at a time when business confidence is constrained, said SACCI.

While the business body welcomed government's commitment to a year of action, it was concerned at the lack of detail in commitments, other than in the five priority areas.

"We anticipate that the delivery and implementation of the strategies outlined would be as sound as the promises and commitments made in the address," said SACCI.

In his address, Zuma said that an independent system operator other than Eskom was to be established - a move which the business chamber also welcomed.

SACCI also welcomed government's plan to address youth unemployment. "We look forward to engaging with government on these proposals."

Government's placing priority on education and skills development in its policies along with the infrastructure spending increase to R846 billion will create a sound base for stronger economic development was also well received.

SACCI said undertakings to address crime were long overdue.

"SACCI seeks measurable improvements in the reduction of crime at all levels and to improved efficiencies in the judicial system, particularly as it impacts reputational risks relating to the hosting of the soccer world cup."

The business body said it would have liked to see the creation of more jobs although it applauded the creation of 480 000 new non-mainstream jobs as announced by the President.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) welcomed the broad policy direction outlined by the President, saying it will be practically detailed in implementation strategies to be announced by the responsible ministries.

"We now look forward to the details and call for increased resources to be allocated for industrial policy implementation measures to build labour absorbing industries, such as clothing and textiles by the various responsible ministries, in particular by the minister of finance in his budget speech next week," said Andre Kriel.