Business for South Africa (B4SA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to move the country to Covid-19 Alert Level 2, which will enable South African businesses and entrepreneurs to resume trading in virtually all sectors of the economy.
B4SA steering committee co-chairperson Martin Kingston says the past 141 days of lockdown have been challenging and “extremely onerous” on many businesses and their employees. “The many ramifications of the lockdown have been severe.”
B4SA believes there is a significant opportunity to reset the course for South Africa, but says this requires decisive leadership and urgent delivery from all social partners working together.
However, he says that while government needs to take decisive action to curb the spread of the virus and to reduce the harsh impacts on South African society, the country must take equally decisive action to rebuild its shattered economy and set it on an accelerated and inclusive growth path.
In this regard, Kingston says now is the time for swift action to restart a more integrated and inclusive economy that can deliver growth and benefits for all.
As such, he points out that B4SA has made detailed proposals for a new economic recovery strategy that leverages the new social and economic compact forged between government, business, labour and civil society during the pandemic, hastens the process for structural adjustment and ensures sustainable and inclusive growth.
This, says Kingston, is a crucial process and was overseen by the President at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) forum on August 13, which B4SA fully endorses.
“It amplifies the intention of building immediately on areas of policy alignment and competitive advantage, while ensuring that, together, we can implement an action plan focused on a sustainable, inclusive and affordable economic growth path.”
According to him, the Nedlac forum showed convergence and commonality by all parties in terms of the extreme urgency for a reconstruction of the South African economy. These include job creation, and prioritising small, medium-sized and microenterprise participation, infrastructure projects, and energy security whilst ensuring the development of a green economy and implementing a just transition.
“At the same time, it has committed to advancing local manufacturing and production for the South African and regional market, as well as focusing on the importance of local procurement.”
Kingston adds that while the imperative of flattening the curve has proven to be largely successful, given the health statistics that are now emerging, it is now a priority to collectively commit to the resumption of greater levels of economic activity.
“We also call for the urgent resolution of outstanding economic policy issues that stand between us and greater prosperity for all South Africans, while also calling for decisive action to combat crime and corruption.”
Further, he says the decision to move to Alert Level 2 of the lockdown will enable a quicker recovery process while ensuring the collective objective of delivering a new, inclusive economic future for South Africa.
“B4SA is fully committed to harnessing opportunities within the various economic sectors and we look forward to building rapidly on the foundations created for recovery.
Going forward, Kingston says B4SA will work tirelessly with its social partners to develop a better, more just and equitable South Africa, where all can achieve their potential.