We need faster growth: Deputy President

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cape Town - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has echoed President Jacob Zuma’s  assertion that government is concerned about the low level of economic growth in South Africa, and various measures will have to be put in place to grow the economy faster.

“Our economy needs to perform at a higher level … the next five years will have to be about great economic activity,” he said on Wednesday during a New Age/SABC business briefing in Cape Town.

“Inequality is still a major problem for us, poverty is still a problem and unemployment still affects many lives of our people. The State of the Nation Address takes place under huge economic challenges that South Africa and the world face, and therefore we will have to move with speed,” Deputy President Ramaphosa said.

He was speaking following President Zuma’s seventh State of the Nation Address on Tuesday night. 

In his address, President Zuma announced a target to grow the economy by 5% in the next five years. He said his administration will focus on growth and the economy will take centre stage in the transformation agenda of government.

The energy sector will also receive an overhaul over the next few years to support rapid economic growth as demanded by the National Development Plan.

On Wednesday, Deputy President Ramaphosa said government would like to see the private sector getting involved in supporting small businesses that are key to economic growth.

“We would like to see more private sector involvement. The ratings agencies have raised concerns about our economy [and] we are as deeply concerned. Quite a number of factors are contributing to our slow growth and the energy sector has been identified as one constraint.

“Many companies who want to invest look at our energy landscape and conclude that we would not be able to meet their manufacturing demands.”

He said government had to address the energy constraints.

Deputy President Ramaphosa said the legacy of apartheid on education was also a major restraint to the kind of growth South Africa should be seeing, 20 years after attaining its democracy.

“We do not have the number of engineers that this country and this economy need to drive us forward. We do not have the number of artisans and technicians that this country needs,” he said.

In the next few years, government will focus on the implementation of the National Development Plan and the proposals made in the election manifesto of the ruling party. 

The most effective weapon against unemployment and poverty would be to “jump start” the economy and ensure the participation of as many people as possible.

Government will meet with its various social partners, business as well as organised labour as part of an approach to encourage economic growth. The mining sector and living conditions of miners will also receive the attention of government and work will continue by ministers to intervene in labour relations conflicts in the sector.

“One of the key issues that we have to address is creating jobs and to achieve this, we require a fast and much more inclusive economic growth. President Zuma has indicated that we are a nation at work. We are determined to work in all sectors of economy to address the economic challenges that we face.” – SAnews.gov.za

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