President: Fixing the economy a pressing priority

Thursday, February 17, 2022
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Cape Town City Hall, responding to the SONA Debate.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says fixing the economy remains the most pressing challenge for the country. 

The President said this when he responded to the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Wednesday 

“As I began the State of the Nation Address last week, I said that the speech would focus on the measures we are taking to enable faster economic growth and the creation of employment.

“This is because fixing the economy is our most pressing challenge at this moment, and is essential to progress in almost every other area of life.

“Our focus on the economy does not, however, diminish the importance of the many other areas of government’s work.

“Many of these issues have been raised in the debate and will be dealt with in greater detail in upcoming budget votes and public engagements by Ministers,” he said.

The President said as the country reflects on the state of the nation, and is looking to the year ahead, it is important for all to remember “where we have come from and what our country has endured”.

“We cannot escape the basic truth that we have an economy and a society that is still largely defined by its colonial and apartheid past.

“Despite the great progress that has been made in the last 28 years to address the legacy of dispossession and exploitation, the material divides between black and white, men and women, rural and urban, still persist.”

The President said the steady economic recovery, expanding employment and increasing investment that followed the advent of democracy was disrupted by the 2008 global financial crisis, falling commodity prices, severe energy constraints, inefficient network industries and the impact of State capture at so many vital public institutions.

“At the same time, our economy has become less and less competitive.

“We could not sustain investment in economic infrastructure. 

“As public spending rapidly increased, the benefits of increased spending declined to a point where the cost of servicing our debt has been crowding out social spending.

“This was the situation that this administration was elected in 2019 to correct, and we took several decisive measures to turn the economy and the country around.”

The President said as South Africa was emerging from more than a decade of low growth and deepening unemployment, and from the era of State capture and the assault on institutions of the State that accompanied it, the country was hit by the worst global health crisis in more than a century.

“We cannot disregard the fact that the pandemic has caused our economy severe damage that will take years to repair.

“Unless we appreciate these facts, unless we characterise the current situation correctly, our response may well be ill-considered and misdirected,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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