SA must work together to reduce poverty

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has called on the private sector and civil society to work with government to reduce the levels of poverty and inequality in South Africa.

According to the Poverty and Inequality Assessment Report, which was launched on Tuesday in Tshwane, poverty rates have fallen since 2006 but increased between 2011 and 2015.

“Despite the achievements we have made as a country, the battle against poverty and inequality is still a long way to go compared with most countries in the world due to the high initial income gap that we seek to address,” Minister Dlamini Zuma said.

Addressing the launch of the assessment report, the Minister said the urgent challenge affecting South Africa’s anti-poverty efforts is the fact that the majority of the population is not participating in the economic mainstream.

“Even if the economy grows, the people who are poor and unemployed are not likely to get employed and benefit from that because a lot of the poor are unemployable because of the demands of the economy.

“Most of them don’t have skills that the economy demands so that tells us that we need a skills revolution in this country in order to [reduce] poverty and narrow the inequality gap,” Minister Dlamini Zuma said.

In addition to social grants and programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), the Minister said all sectors must support small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), as they can create a lot of jobs.

World Bank Country Director Dr Paul Noumba Um said South Africa has made progress in terms of poverty reduction, improving access to basic services, education and health.

He said the progress that South Africa has made has been undermined by low economic growth.

“Growth that we have had over the past years has not been sufficiently pro-poor, has not created enough jobs to meet the targets outlined in the National Development Plan.

“As a continent, unemployment remains high, especially for young people. This is the our generation must address,” Noumba Um said.

He said the country needs to find solutions to respond to the younger generations’ aspiration for better economic opportunities.

Noumba Um said the World Bank Group is committed to continuing to working with government with regards to providing technical support and knowledge, global experience as well as financial support.

“It is our hope that the findings of this report will enhance our understanding of a gradual poverty and inequality, as well as the barriers to reduction in South Africa. We have made good progress and that progress has slowed down. We should not let ourselves reverse this progress,” Noumba Um said.

The report showed South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Furthermore, inequality is high, persistent and has increased since 1994.

Half of South Africans during the 2008-2014/15 period were considered chronically poor and 78% of South Africans were in poverty at once during the 2008-2014/15.

“Current policies will not eliminate poverty and significantly reduce inequality by 2030. Low growth projections at an average of 1.4% between 2018 and 2030 will only reduce poverty from 40% to 33% and create 215 000 jobs annually, reducing consumption Gini coefficient from 62.8 to 59.5,” the report said.

Furthermore, the report states that the labour market is key to poverty and inequality reduction.

“Accelerating poverty and inequality reduction will require a combination of policies that promote inclusive growth through booting access to education and skilled jobs creation,” the report said. –SAnews.gov.za

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