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Mashatile, Seifsa emphasise need to collaborate to remove growth, job creation obstacles

18th July 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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During a meeting between members of the industry employer organisation Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) and Deputy President Paul Mashatile on July 14, the parties emphasised the need for greater collaboration between government and business to remove obstacles to growth and job creation.

“There is no time to waste in jumpstarting economic growth. The stark reality is that three decades into our young democracy, the overriding story of the South African economy remains one of a country that is not reaching, let alone fulfilling, its potential in many areas. The country’s current economic growth, job creation prospects and industrial development efforts are less than encouraging,” said Seifsa CEO Lucio Trentini.

Mashatile stressed the importance of restoring business and investor confidence in the industry, as well as the wider economy. Government was committed to implementation and to creating strong ties with industry and the roundtable event was the beginning of a process of engagement, he said.

Seifsa president Elias Monage said the federation had made headway in developing an integrated approach to dealing with the country’s many challenges, but emphasised the need for government and business to cooperate more in order to address issues, such as low economic growth, stubborn unemployment and to be open to new collaborative efforts.

Mashatile urged businesses not to lose hope as government worked to tackle the country’s major challenges.

“South Africa’s economic and social challenges are mounting, risking stagnation amid an unprecedented energy crisis, increasingly binding infrastructure and logistics bottlenecks, and high unemployment, crime and corruption. These problems need answers from society, business and the government,” he said.

“Government is fully aware of the challenges facing our industries and we are committed to providing the necessary support and resources to ensure their growth and resilience.”

To restore faith in the economy, the metals and engineering industries needed to come together, change with the times and take decisive action, he said.

“As a first step, we must recognise the importance of government in creating a dependable and helpful atmosphere for businesses to flourish. Government needs to have enabling policies, solid infrastructure and a receptive regulatory framework.

“Our commitment to establishing a favourable business climate remains unwavering. Government has already undertaken various initiatives to restore confidence and promote growth, These include tax incentives and relief measures to alleviate the burden on businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises,” Mashatile averred.

Further, the State is also investing resources into improving infrastructure, including the transportation networks, power grids and Internet access, which has the potential to spur development and bring in capital.

For example, the National Rail Policy has been enacted as a roadmap for modernising and reforming the rail industry, and includes provisions for third-party access to the railway network.

To implement the policy commitments, government was constructing a Transnet Roadmap, which would include reorganising Transnet Freight Rail and appointing a new infrastructure manager for the rail network by October, he stated.

Mashatile also said the South African National Roads Agency was working to fulfil its duties to fund, enhance, manage and maintain the country's road system.

“Road infrastructure plays a critical role in the economy. The State understands the huge role it needs to play to advance the economy,” he said.

Additionally, government was determined to end loadshedding as one of the foremost priorities, he added.

Government was also actively engaged in promoting investment opportunities and forging stronger ties with other nations, he noted.

“By enhancing our exports and diversifying our markets, we can reduce our dependency on any single market and mitigate risks associated with economic volatility.”

Further, Mashatile emphasised that the current administration was committed to fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, highlighting investments in research and development, the promotion of innovation hubs and support for start-ups to harness the power of innovation and create a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile, crime and corruption were a thorn in the country’s democracy, he said.

“Corruption undermines the functioning and legitimacy of institutions and processes, the rule of law and the State itself, as well as damaging the economy.

“The battle to root out corruption and strengthen the rule of law can succeed only if it is taken on by the whole of society. We must all join forces to fight this scourge.”

The event gave CEOs the opportunity to engage government on working together in partnership to remove obstacles to economic growth and job creation. The meeting with Mashatile, as the leader of government-business relations, was aimed at strengthening and deepening this collaborative partnership and facilitating movement beyond policy formulation to project implementation.

The initiative builds on the success of the meeting held with President Cyril Ramaphosa on April 18, during which Seifsa and government agreed on the need for an urgent collaborative, solution-based approach aimed at reigniting economic growth and securing the metals and engineering sector's future sustainability.

Three priority workstreams were established subsequent to the April meeting focusing on demand creation, increasing exports into Africa and skills development, Trentini said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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