R10bn jobs-saving initiative

20 February 2009

The South African government is to spend R10-billion over the next three years on the National Jobs Initiative, which will bring together a range of new and revamped programmes as part of an initiative to save jobs during the global economic crisis.

Details of the initiative were released in a report, “Framework for South Africa’s response to the international economic crisis”, drawn up by a task team comprising members of government, business and organised labour, which met in Cape Town on Thursday.

The initiative’s goals are to minimise job losses, ensure that all activities strengthen the capacity of the economy, and sustain are high levels of investment in public sector infrastructure.

“In line with the principles outlined above, we are convinced of the need for a bold intervention in the form of a broad stimulus package, as signalled in the recent budget that has economic and social components,” the report states.

Stimulus packages

According to the report, attention would be given to those sectors which were already showing signs of early job losses, including the clothing, textiles and footwear, mining, and the automotive and capital equipment sectors.

With the help of organised business and labour, the government is to develop proposals within the next four weeks to provide a rescue package to other affected industries, including the electrical and electronics sector, engineering and the building materials industry.

“Such [stimulus] packages will include reciprocal commitments by companies of what they will contribute to turnaround strategies,” the report states.

Development finance

The report mentions that development finance institutions would need to play a significant role alongside the government in order to save jobs and keep the South African economy buoyant, and the joint committee has tasked these institutions with providing their rescue package proposals to the task team within four weeks.

The parties also agreed to develop action plans to ensure timely implementation of a number of planned initiatives, including intensifying the expanded public works programme.

Following the meeting of the committee, a number of task teams have been established to monitor progress on the proposals put forward. They include task teams for leadership, investment and financing, social interventions, employment, and distressed sectors.

Source: BuaNews