27 February 2014
South African business and labour have to play their part to ensure that the country’s economy starts growing at the rate needed for sustainable job creation, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Speaking at a business breakfast briefing in Cape Town on Thursday, Gordhan said that instead of business and labour blaming the government for the country’s stagnant growth, they needed to look into the mirror and see how they could help in lifting economic growth to levels of above 5%.
Gordhan’s 2014 Budget, which he tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, was anchored on improving the country’s growth over the next five years. The Budget has been widely welcomed by organised business and labour.
At Thursday’s breakfast, he called on black and white businessmen to forge a partnership and start working together to realise the country’s economic goals.
“It is time for white business and black business to find each other to begin to build synergies between themselves and to become constructive players in the economy and in our society so that we can overcome some of the challenges as we go forward.
“[T]he missing piece in this [list] of initiatives that we have is leadership,” Gordhan said. “Leadership from all of us, leadership of saying I recognise that there is a possibility of taking this country to a new level – a new level of growth, job creation, employment and a new level of a reduction in poverty and inequality.
“The question is, can we find that kind of leadership in business, in labour, in government and in civil society, that … can say we are prepared to put aside some of our vested interests … in order to run the country with a bold leadership that is needed.
“If we break that deadlock, then we have a possibility to move our country to the growth that we have not been able to reach.”
Gordhan said the government was doing all it could to create an environment that would make it easy to do business by removing regulatory costraints, reducing business cost structures, and offering incentives to small and medium enterprises to bolster entrepreneurship and job creation.
Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, who also attended Thursday’s briefing, said in response to a question that strengthening local government was key to service delivery and growth.
He said the government would welcome assistance from the private sector through skills transfer on a consultation basis, provided the private sector did not charge excessively for its services.