Plans to create 4.5 million jobs through programme

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cape Town - Government is set to up its efforts to create more jobs and plans to create 4.5 million short-term jobs through the Expanded Public Works Programme over the next five years.

This, while a new umbrella fund will incentivise businesses to create more jobs, said the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday.

Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, in Parliament, Gordhan said a wage-based incentive mechanism is being implemented to encourage departments and municipalities to use funds for labour-intensive projects.

The incentive is aimed at the infrastructure sector and at non-governmental organisations and community organisations that provide services on behalf of government.

A R50 reimbursement of the daily wage of each person hired will be given, provided that the job target threshold has been exceeded. The subsidy will be extended to projects in the environment, cultural and social sectors.

The Expanded Public Works Programme provided 1.6 million jobs during its first phase which ran from 2004 till this year.

The community works programme, which operates largely in rural areas, is being rolled out in the current financial year. It aims to provide work to at least 1 000 people per week on each site.

The programme aims to create the equivalent of 180 000 full-time jobs by 2014 and a total of R114.5 million has been set aside for the programme in the adjusted budget.

Gordhan also announced that a total of 3 438 employees from 24 companies had applied to government's training layoff scheme by October 2.

A figure of R2.4 billion has been set aside to fund the scheme. Workers whose companies plan to retrench are instead placed on training programmes administered by the National Skills Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration oversees the scheme, with the Sector Education and Training Authorities providing training.

Government is also considering setting up a fund to support businesses with the aim of increasing employment.

Briefing the media before his medium-term budget speech, Gordhan said the fund would largely be made up of existing spending programmes and tax incentives, with clear targets aimed at job creation.

Said Gordhan: "We've reached a point in time where if we are going to focus on job creation, we need to take stock of what is all of that money and secondly we need to ask ourselves where do we prioritise the expenditure of that money, in order that we spend where it's best needed and not spend it because it's been there for the last five or 10 years."

He said a key aim would be to make more transparent the amount of jobs created by the rebates, incentives and support programmes offered by the government.

"I think the country is demanding some answers in terms of where is the trade off in investments in these forms and the actual jobs that are created," he said.