SA digs deep to explore untapped economic wealth

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cape Town – Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says as part of the radical economic transformation envisaged for the next five years, government would, over and above numerous interventions, develop productive sectors of the economy.

Kick-starting the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, Minister Radebe – the longest serving Cabinet minister – said there was a “massive untapped economic potential related to our oceans”.

He said government will start with two pilot projects -- one in the economic sector, led by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, and one in the health sector, led by the Minister of Health. The economic sector laboratory will focus on the ocean economy.

“Our analysis indicates that there is massive untapped economic potential related to our oceans in the areas of marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture and marine protection services and governance.

“It is estimated that unlocking the economic potential of our oceans can contribute up to R177 billion to GDP by 2033 compared to R54 billion in 2010. This sector has the potential to employ one million people by 2033 compared with 316 000 in 2010.”

Minister Radebe said this after President Jacob Zuma delivered the first SONA of the fifth administration on Tuesday night.

The minister said through government’s industrialisation programme, local procurement and other measures, the state will develop and promote job-creating sectors of the economy such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.

“We will increase support for smallholder farmers through developing cooperatives in marketing and supply activities, to enable small scale producers to enter formal value chains and take advantage of economies of scale.

“We will also increase support for exploration, development and production in mining and address obstacles to the use of our minerals in manufacturing, including incentivising beneficiation through mining licensing,” he said.

He said special focus would be given to youth development through increasing educational, training and work opportunities.

The newly created Ministry of Small Business will become the major contributor to job creation and the small business sector will play a key role in reducing concentration in the economy and breaking the stranglehold of monopolies, Minister Radebe said.

The minister said these and other interventions were part of growing the economy by 5% by 2019.

The Democratic Alliance’s Parliamentary leader, Mmusi Maimane, said the economy was struggling to create jobs because he believed the state’s economic transformation programmes were not radical enough.

He said many people continue to struggle to find jobs and live in poverty.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema said he did not understand why people were being called to celebrate 20 years of freedom, as they continued to live in hardship.

He also called on Members of Parliament to push for legislation that would impose a national minimum wage. –  

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