13 September 2010
South Africa is busy finalising a new policy framework for labour-intensive growth, as well as identifying the policy tools available to support job creation across the economy, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Speaking at the 15th National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) annual summit in Johannesburg last week, Motlanthe said there would be intense engagement to find an implementable strategy that would have the full backing of the government’s social partners.
“As government, we hope that the new growth path will provide another stepping stone towards the shared vision that we will require to address the structural constraints of the South African economy,” Motlanthe said.
“[It] will define the nature of the South African jobs and equity challenge, and address labour-intensive growth.”
Motlanthe said there were a number of challenges in achieving a more labour-intensive growth path in the country, suggesting that organised labour and business could do more to contribute towards a higher participation rate and better utilisation of labour.
“An obvious but necessary starting point will not only be to acknowledge the importance of finding solutions, but also being prepared to rise above partial interests in constructing shared solutions that are in the public interest,” he said.
Industrial Policy Action Plan
The government earlier this year launched the Industrial Policy Action Plan 2 (IPAP), which seeks to respond to various economic and industrial imperatives and to address weaknesses in South Africa’s economy.
The plan’s vision is to have an industrialisation trajectory that promotes labour-absorbing industrial sectors, with an emphasis on tradable labour-absorbing goods and services, and economic linkages that promote job creation, said Motlanthe.
It also aims to promote broader-based industrialisation characterised by greater participation of historically disadvantaged people and marginalised regions in the mainstream of the industrial economy.
Shift to ‘green economy’
In March, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said the government had embarked on a shift to a more labour-absorptive economy, and that the new growth path would include a focus on manufacturing, infrastructure development, rural development and agro-processing, and the “green” economy.
At the time, Patel said the new growth path would recognise the crucial role of the private sector in creating new jobs.
Leveraging World Cup sentiment
Also speaking at last week’s the summit, Business Unity South Africa President Futhi Mtoba said the positive energy shown during the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ had to be channelled into economic growth, employment and transformation.
“We must leverage the lessons we learnt on ‘walking the talk’ more effectively in planning, decision-making and implementation for the benefit of all South Africans, especially relating to the provisioning of infrastructure,” Mtoba said.
“If economic growth and job creation are priorities, then attracting foreign direct investment into labour-absorbing ventures in South Africa must be high on the agenda.”