Pretoria: While South Africa has made significant progress in job creation, the country still has a while to go before reaching its target, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
He was responding to a Parliamentary question in the National Assembly from the ANC on the headway made in the realization of the country’s New Growth Path (NGP), which had in 2010 set a target of creating five million new jobs by 2020.
Although Motlanthe was cautiously optimistic about the Labour Force Survey, which showed that over 300 000 new jobs were created by the end of 2011, he said the country had its work cut out for it.
“This is no cause for celebration since we believe that there is a long road ahead, and thus we are accelerating measures to increase employment through public sector interventions as well as assisting the private sector to create more jobs,” said Motlanthe on Wednesday.
He singled out the newly adopted National Infrastructure Plan as the key driver of the job creation element of the NGP that would stimulate employment creation by improving the competitiveness of core industries and opening up new opportunities for them.
He said this would primarily be done through the Durban/Free State/Gauteng corridor and the opening up of the Northern Mining Belt, as well as securing the country’s energy supply and upgrading the ports.
Major investments would also go towards increasing the access of historically deprived regions to the core economy through improved roads, rail and communications, as well as enhancing productivity through investments in household and economic infrastructure and in social capital.
The Deputy President said much job creation prospects were pinned on construction projects for the build programme.
Maximising local procurement of inputs for such projects, Motlanthe said, would also ensure the greatest possible multiplier from the build programme.
South Africa has also streamlined key elements of the regulatory framework to help bolster the outcomes for job creation. Motlanthe said crucial steps had been taken in this regard, which include:
* Enhancements to the mining licensing and environmental impact assessment systems;
* The establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency;
* The development of an “unblocking” project in the Economic Development Department, which has assisted large new employment-creating projects to overcome unnecessary bureaucratic delays; and
* Continued efforts to simplify tax administration, including the acclaimed instrument of e-filing.
“We have also initiated major programmes to support key economic sectors. These include the auto industry scheme, which has already led to billions of rand in new investment; the clothing and textiles scheme, which has stabilised this critical labour-intensive industry; continued support for business process services, which has already succeeded in creating tens of thousands of new jobs; and a number of programmes to bolster agro-processing,” he said.
In spite of the current slowdown in the global economy, the Deputy President said they remained confident that these measures would go a long way towards helping SA to create new jobs.