Economic crisis task team report available soon - Motlanthe

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cape Town - President Kgalema Motlanthe told media on Sunday a report from the task team set up to investigate options to assist struggling sectors of the economy should be ready by next month.

Mr Motlanthe said the task team consists of people from the Presidency, business and organized labour, and have been mandated to provide proposals for government assistance to sectors crumbling under the recessionary environment globally.

"There will be a report available soon from the task team ... and we expect they will come back with concrete proposals on how we should respond to the economic meltdown.

"We must be mindful of the fact that we don't know how far the meltdown is going to go, but we have not touched the ground yet. It is difficult to know whether it is a recession or depression," the President said.

Responding to a question on how exactly government will be assisting the sectors most affected by the global recession the President explained that it would not be in the form of just throwing money at the problem.

There will not be a special fund setup to give money to companies, the President said, but the task team is looking at various options with the primary focus of saving people jobs.

In the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Friday, he said: "The global economic meltdown does pose serious dangers for the economy in terms of job losses and the quality of life of our people.

"Our central and immediate task is to fully appreciate the consequences of these developments on our economy and our region, and devise responses that will minimise their impact on the most vulnerable sectors of our society."

The demand for South Africa's exports has decreased and the creation of jobs has been negatively affected with retrenchments already taking place in the car manufacturing sector, among others.

The government will adapt industrial financing and incentive instruments to help deal with challenges in various sectors to allow for staff to retain their positions, he said.

With regard to challenges surrounding the criminal justice system, the president highlighted that a process of reform has already been put in motion led by the Deputy Minister of Justice Advocate JH de Lange.

"Steps have already been taken so we're just waiting for that report to come back to us from the deputy minister," the President indicated.

With regard to recent incidents of political violence between two political parties in KwaZulu-Natal, the President highlighted that he spoke to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) agreed that all political parties must be free to campaign across the country.

No political party, he said, could be barred from reaching out to any community in the country.

The President indicated in his SONA on Friday that he will be announcing the date of the 2009 General Elections sometime next week.