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Sona: it’s time for action

Business is ready pick up the infrastructure baton and run with it. But it needs regulatory clarity and an appropriate PPP framework: BLSA CEO.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

This week we will hear President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation (Sona) speech. It is an opportunity to set down policy objectives and provide clarity on what the rest of the year is going to consist of.

First, we need precise guidance on the vaccine strategy. We want a clear rollout plan that details when vulnerable groups will receive vaccinations. That will in turn make it clear when stress on hospitals will reduce and when the need for lockdown measures will dissipate. Business now needs that clarity in order to plan around the risks of a third wave which may reach us before critical mass of vaccinations has been achieved.

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That is probably the easy part, though. The president also needs to detail how we as a country can lift our heads and look forward to the future, post the pandemic. The foundations need to be set now. Business worked alongside other social partners and government to develop the economic recovery plan that has been backed by cabinet.

We need now to move beyond planning to action. Everyone is aligned.

Renewable energy

In last year’s Sona, Ramaphosa promised that spectrum auctions and a fifth round of the renewable energy programme would happen in 2020. These still haven’t. Of course, the pandemic interrupted many plans, but it is now crucial that the president provides evidence that these will happen in short order. Along with these we urgently need wider reforms to energy policy, finalising long-promised reforms to visa policies for scarce skills, solidifying the infrastructure strategy to actually reach construction stage, and finalising mining sector reforms.

Last week, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter backed reforms to allow anyone to build their own generation facilities of up to 50MW without needing a licence –a move that would rapidly lead to large investments by companies in their own energy infrastructure. That, along with clarity on renewable energy timetables, could spur a green economy industrialisation wave to position South Africa as global leader in green tech. It would create many jobs and spur small business.

But for that to happen we need clear timetables, clear policies and accountability for delivering on them. Clarity on the renewable energy programme means backing the successful formula that has delivered four rounds so far, one that everyone from banks to construction firms understand well.

Introducing uncertainty, particularly around the extent of local input required, would delay energy security, increase costs of bids and ultimately slow down the economic recovery and green industrialisation process.

PPP delay

Infrastructure has been central to the president’s economic strategy since he took office, calling for private investment to spur development. Yet there have been no new public-private partnerships (PPPs) registered since and therefore no opportunity to invest. In the economic recovery plan there is clear agreement that the Public Finance Management Act, Municipal Finance Management Act and their respective regulations need to be amended to make both PPPs and on-budget infrastructure delivery more straightforward.

The public sector has suffered a skills exodus and the cumbersome procurement process frustrates those left from quickly delivering infrastructure at all levels of government.

A waste-water treatment plant in a small town has to follow the same process as a mega project like the Gautrain in order to be delivered through a PPP. This is poor use of scarce resources.

Yet we have heard nothing from National Treasury which oversees the legislation of plans to undertake amendments.

Business is ready pick up the infrastructure baton and run with it. Regulatory clarity would trigger major investment from communications infrastructure to mining exploration, without costing the state a cent. Similarly, an appropriate PPP framework would open many opportunities for the private sector to invest in, construct and operate public infrastructure.

We are ready to support the effort. This week the president can earn our trust and confidence to work with government on delivering. The future we see ahead would be far brighter for all South Africans.

The successful rollout of vaccines to health workers will provide the country with an opportunity to redirect its efforts to put the economy back on a recovery trajectory, I wrote in my Business Report column. It’s also critical that in meeting the goal of reaching about 40 million people, the state must work in partnership with business and labour. Over the short- to medium term, our biggest growth risk is a slow and haphazard rollout of the vaccination programme.

To undertake a vaccination programme that will ultimately have to reach 67% of the population, or about 40 million people, is a daunting enough task for any country, let alone South Africa. I wrote in Business Day that we understand the magnitude of this test – it’s the first time the government has had to undertake such a challenge. Business is assisting the government in numerous areas to support a successful vaccine rollout.

Busi Mavuso is CEO of Business Leadership South Africa

COMMENTS   21

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Action for 1 day. 354 days of looting.

and 10 000 days of talking……

Africa is the only continent in the world where talking is just as good as doing.

action in their dreams

Nothing is going change…not a thing.

Fascism is state control and central planning of the economy, where some of the resources are privately owned and most belong to the state.

Under free market principles, individuals follow the profit motive to provide products and services to consumers.

Under a fascist regime, the state directs economic activity for political purposes. The needs of the individual consumer are irrelevant under fascism. The leading politician determines what is important and that is the best product or servise the consumer can hope to receive. Freedom of choice and human rights are hollow concepts in this system.

The overriding prevalence of SOEs and BEE requirements, combined with the idea of Public Private Partnerships indicates the the ANC goverment is a fascist state.

As a type of socialism, fascist governments cannot be viable because it lacks the profit objective and the market mechanism to direct the efficient allocation of resources.

Any economic system that ignores the power of individuals with property rights, when incentivised by the profit motive, to allocate resources is bound to fail.

We are 26 years into this fascist experiment and failure is everywere around us. We cannot even deliver electricity, water, face-masks or vaccines to consumers without things coming apart at the seams.

The ANC cannot provide the solutions becuase the ANC is 100% of the problem.

Spot on final sentence..

Fascism is sadly the core of this government (I doubt it was under then President Mbeki)

it’s also doubtful 9/10 South Africans know or understand the true meaning of the word…oligarchs in bed with the ruling elite

It would be great if a potent but less debatable word could be found, used or created to embarrass this current de-facto one party state ruling elite

The word you are looking for is kakistocracy. The Afrikaans version may sound suspect………?

Just more we togedda wills, empty promises and denial of reality!!!!

Step 1 : Fix electricity

Step 2 : The rest

(I’ll follow the parliamentary speeches again upon completion of step 1.)

Here is the speech:

Legacy of apartheid, white bashing, legacy of apartheid, more white bashing…committee this, committee that. Finally something about coming together and getting private companies to sort out ANC garbage

I solemnly promise, to make more promises. Squirill.

You cannot have successful “action” (i.e. implementation) if most of your cabinet members, ANC delegates are benefactors of the BEE/AA system.

It simply means there’s not enough (proper) skills to “action” anything.

The ANC is the victim of its own failed policies.

There was a time when I quite enjoyed SONA, then came the Zuma era and those job creation numbers were mind boggling.

Now we have this guy, same old same old, I think I will find something else to do.

He will try to explain how R100 million was flushed down the toilet on non barcoded vaccine that is going to expire before being administered and is mostly ineffectual. That may be an interesting load of BS.

Amazing to think there are still some people around who believe that CR will suddenly become a leader and take action where needed.

It is no surprise that no PPP’s are not happening. As long as the 501 pages of National Treasury PPP regulations are not reduced to less than 20 pages, no business person or municipal official in his right mind will consider it. It is such a nightmare that you can be certain of, unintentionally, breaking some regulations and end up with the Auditor General on your case.

If the Frog boiler really wants to do something beneficial to South Africa he should dissolve the ANC – mother of almost all present problems.

Pres Ramaphosa, where is the vision for the country?

Are we aiming to be the Singapore or the next Zimbabwe? We have elements of both. What do successful countries do? They ensure:

1) Small families

2) Quality education, and

3) Strong economic growth.

South Africa cannot afford any more delays in implementing structural reforms. For instance, aging and undermaintained electricity infrastructure is collapsing, in turn, plunging the nation into the dark. Young people born in South Africa are standing high chances of not working in their lives, both white and black. Drugs are ravaging our cities and townships in all provinces. The once-promising young democracy is in decline. I agree with the author this is time for implementation.

Why is there an expectation that suddenly he will have an epiphany? The hounds have been unleashed and there is no turning back. This is not by accident, but by design. There was no intention of having a modern prosperous state.

End of comments.

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