Infrastructure key to economic recovery — Ramaphosa

The ANC wants South Africa to build its way out of the current economic crisis, using local industries as the major suppliers for a series of infrastructure projects, which it says will be central to a national economic recovery plan.

This emerged on Tuesday evening as the governing party wrapped up a two-day virtual lekgotla convened by its national executive committee (NEC) to discuss the country’s fiscal malaise and spiralling job losses, which have been worsened by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.

Addressing the closing session of the lekgotla, which was attended by the ANC’s alliance partners and its deployees in government, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the party had committed to a recovery plan that was based largely on using infrastructure as a catalyst.

South Africa’s reconstruction and recovery plan, would, he said, be “an infrastructure-led strategy”, with investments in water, energy, sanitation, housing, roads, health and education, and public transport.

Localisation 

Projects would be driven by the localisation, using South African suppliers, materials and construction companies to increase local industrial activities, Ramaphosa said.

Emphasis would be placed on making use of small business, together with young people, women and co-operatives, as suppliers and labour intensive-labour methods would mean that projects would employ more people.

Ramaphosa said the lekgotla had drafted time frames for the implementation of the programme — the detail of which would be announced in the near future — by the government and had agreed that for the plan to succeed, state debt needed to be brought under control.

“To stabilise public finances the budget deficit must be reduced, borrowing costs must be managed and there must be pro-growth reforms,” he said.

These included large-scale, off-budget investment in energy and a continuation of reforms in sectors including telecommunications, mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. Other reforms to attract investors, and to improve their confidence in doing business in South Africa, would also be part of the package, he said.

Other major areas of focus would be stimulating the green and blue economies; agriculture and stabilising food security; macroeconomic policy interventions; the mainstreaming of gender in public programmes and increased spending on public-employment programmes.

Combating corruption

Ramaphosa said the NEC had confirmed the position that state employees should not conduct business with the state in any way and had committed to further consultation to find the “most appropriate approach” for other politically exposed persons. 

It had noted the effects of corruption and the illicit flow of funds on society and the need for a social compact between all sectors of society to prevent the continuation of corrupt practices.

He described the work being done by the law enforcement agencies — which have made a series of high-profile arrests in the last week — as commendable, saying that “we must leave no stone unturned in dealing with crime and corruption.”

The NEC had committed to an approach that balanced the need for a clampdown on corruption and stopping the illicit flow of bribes and money with the right of people to do business, including those who had left the employ of the state.

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