PRETORIA, While South Africa has experienced a turbulent 2017, the government remains committed to maintaining a sustainable fiscal framework going into the future, says the Presidency0.
In a statement here Thursday on progress made in moving the country forward, the Presidency said South Africa, like many other countries, was facing severe headwinds and was facing challenging economic conditions.
This has, however, not stopped Government from doing all it can to re-ignite economic growth, said the Presidency, noting that the South African economy had managed to emerge out of a recession.
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) rebounded by 2.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2017 and subsequently to 2.0 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.
The Presidency said both figures reflected improvement, compared with the 0.7 per cent decline recorded in the first quarter of 2017. In the third quarter, the country’s agricultural output expanded by 44.2 per cent, while the mining and quarrying sector expanded by 6.6 per cent and manufacturing rose 4.3 per cent.
Concerns raised by the government included the unemployment rate which had remained unchanged at 27.7 per cent for most of 2017, as well as depressed levels of business and consumer confidence.
President Jacob Zuma has directed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, working with the Presidential Fiscal Committee, to identify concrete measures to urgently address the challenges identified in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
We remain committed to maintaining a sustainable fiscal framework and to ensuring that a solution is found to address the roughly 40-billion-Rand (about2.96 billion US Dollars) gap that has been identified through a combination of expenditure reductions and revenue-enhancing measures, the Presidency said.
These interventions include: Identifying and finalising proposals for about 25 billion Rand cuts in expenditure in areas that will not negatively affect economic growth prospects and job creation; Identifying and finalizing proposals for revenue-enhancing measures amounting to about R15 billion including, where appropriate, tax measures; Developing a phased implementation plan to enable the proposals for fee-free higher education for students from poor and working class backgrounds to be implemented in a fiscally sustainable manner; and identifying the package of economic stimulus measures that will be implemented to enable the economy to grow at a faster rate.
The Presidency said the continued collaboration between business, labour and Government remained key to growing the economy and creating jobs. By working together, we can build an inclusive economy which benefits all South Africans. Government has laid the framework for this through progressive economic and social policies.
As for the Nine-Point Plan, which as first announced in the President’s 2015 State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Presidency said the impact of the plan was being felt in key strategic sectors such the energy, manufacturing and the Oceans Economy. While the plan draws to a conclusion in 2019, it would have set in motion a number of levers to boost the economy’s future growth, the Presidency said.
As part of improving the ease of doing business, the government has launched InvestSA One-Stop Shops in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces. The One-Stop Shop concept creates a conducive environment by providing a focal point of contact for investors to obtain all services to fast-track projects and reduce government red-tape when establishing a business.
The One-Stop Shops provide services offered by key departments such as Home Affairs, Labour, Environmental Affairs, as well as agencies such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
The statement also said that in 2017, South Africa made further gains as a preferred investment destination for many of the world’s top companies. The country has proven itself to be a popular investment destination, which consistently attracts some of the world’s top businesses to its shores.
In 2017, Ford invested 3.0 billion Rand at its Pretoria assembly plant in order to increase production for its Ford Ranger model. This builds on the country’s reputation as a preferred investment destination and affirms government’s Automotive Production and Development Programme in attracting global automotive producers, said the Presidency.
On the transport front, upgraded and new roads have made travelling easier and more accessible. Investments in transport have seen the launch of new trains, as well as the expansion of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems in various cities. The
Government has embarked on one of the world’s biggest rail transport projects to overhaul the country’s passenger trains at a cost of more than 50 billion Rand.
The country is also moving to ensure the meaningful participation of black South Africans in the productive sectors of the economy. Government has created a hive of economic activity in our rural areas through the revitalisation of agriculture that opens opportunities to South Africans who need it the most, said the Presidency.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK