The Government of the Free State will develop an Investment Book as a means of contributing to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive.
This book will provide an analysis of the Free State economy and detail investment opportunities. It will also include information on doing business in the province.
“To augment this, we will establish the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council to help boost economic growth and development.
“Working closely with the President’s investment team, the council will be made up of experts and qualified individuals, whose names will be announced soon,” Premier Sisi Ntombela announced on Monday.
Delivering her State of the Province Address (SOPA), Ntombela said the province will place special emphasis on the Expanded Public Works Programme, which created 18 897 jobs in the province in the 2018/19 financial year.
“In the financial year 2019/20, we will create 52 000 job opportunities. Of these, 28 600 will benefit women. Another 28 600 will benefit the youth and one 1 040 will benefit people living with a disability,” Ntombela said.
In the 2019/20 financial year, the provincial government will undertake construction and maintenance of critical roads projects, which will be implemented in various towns.
In addition to this, the province will develop six new roads, which are expected to create 5 000 jobs.
“Not only will these projects contribute to skills development, [they will] also improve road infrastructure and access to basic services. It is expected that more than 5 600 jobs will be created through these projects,” Ntombela said.
Property and industrial parks
The Free State Development Corporation concluded 18 new commercial and industrial lease contracts that are below R10 million with various tenants, creating 900 jobs.
Forty-eight percent of blacks and 52% of whites are benefiting from the province’s commercial property portfolio.
On average, this means that over R9 million is paid to black landlords in rentals on a monthly basis.
The second phase of the revitalisation of the Botshabelo and QwaQwa Industrial Parks has been approved and will start in March, while the application for Phuthaditjhaba second phase and Thaba Nchu first phase have been submitted to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Ntombela said the biggest employer at Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Park is SA Clothing, which employs 1 300 people, and 90% of these are women.
Overall, 8 744 jobs have been created at Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Park as part of the revitalisation process.
With 144 factories, the Botshabelo Industrial Park employs 8 725 full-time and 800 part-time workers.
When operational, Ntombela said these industrial parks will serve as economic hubs producing different products such as textile, plastic, electrical goods and food products.
“The revitalisation program has created a sense of security and this has led to about a 5% increase in the number of tenants. Employment has also increased, with an extra 350 and 560 jobs created in Botshabelo and Phuthaditjhaba Industrial Parks, respectively.”
Ntombela said the province supports President Cyril Ramaphosa’s message that mining in South Africa is a sunrise industry.
As a result, programmes to support small-scale miners to take part in this sector will be initiated this year.
This will entail the development of an integrated plan for the revitalisation of depressed mining towns.
Ntombela said the province will focus on the agricultural sector as it is not only important for food security, rural development, and it has a significant potential for high labour absorption. She said this necessitates the expansion and diversification of the agricultural sector in the province.
With this in mind, she announced that the provincial government will implement an Agricultural Master Plan, which identifies many commodities meant to stimulate the desired economic growth.
In addition to this, the province will establish a goat farming project that will provide training for young entrepreneurs in this field.
An export market has already been identified.
Last year, the local government committed to commercialising black farmers, with a target of nearly 250 black commercial farmers by the end of 2021/22.
Ntombela said the seriousness with which the province considers the creation of black commercial farmers is evident in the establishment of the AgriBEE Charter Council to support commercial agribusiness and transform this sector in the province.
With regards to the controversial the Vrede Integrated Dairy Project, Ntombela reported that its operations have now been vested with the provincial government.
She committed to working closely with all role players to ensure that farming operations on this farm become sustainable and that the community of Vrede fully take part in this project. – SAnews.gov.za