Economic recovery plan bears fruit

President Cyril Ramaphosa has outlined progress made since the announcement of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

Delivering the 2021 State of the Nation Address (SONA) recently, the President says, since the launch of the plan on 15 October 2020, the country’s infrastructure investment project pipeline worth R340 billion in network industries such as energy, water, transport and telecommunications had been developed.

“Construction has started and progress is being made on a number of projects,” he says, adding that government had, since the launch, focused on four priority interventions:

  • A massive roll-out of infrastructure throughout the country;
  • A massive increase in local production;
  • An employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods; and
  • The rapid expansion of our energy generation capacity.

Since the announcement of the plan, two major human settlements projects that will provide homes to almost
68 000 households in Gauteng have been launched.

Reviving infrastructure?

The President believes  that these infrastructure projects will lead to the revival of the construction industry and the creation of much-needed jobs.

Unveiling the plan in October, President Ramaphosa says the Infrastructure Fund would provide R100 billion in finance over the next decade, leveraging as much as R1 trillion in new investment for strategic infrastructure projects.

During SONA, he announced that the fund, which will blend resources from the fiscus with financing from the private sector and development institutions, was in full operation.

Its approved project pipeline for 2021 is varied and includes the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme, which aims to provide 300 000 student beds.

Another approved project is SA Connect, a programme to roll out broadband to schools, hospitals, police stations and other government facilities.

Supporting local production

The second priority intervention of the ERRP is to support a massive increase in local production and to make South African exports globally competitive.

Key to this plan is a renewed commitment from government, business and organised labour to buy local, which will lead to increased local production, and the revival of the manufacturing industry.

In turn, all social partners who participated in the development of the plan, as part of a social
compact, have agreed to work together to reduce the reliance on imports by 20% over the next five years.

A total of 42 products – ranging from edible oils to furniture, fruit concentrates, personal protective equipment and steel products - have been identified as those than can be sourced locally.

“If we achieve our target, we will significantly expand our productive economy, potentially returning more than R200 billion to the country’s annual output.”

On supporting small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), the departments of Small Business Development and Trade, Industry and Competition are supporting SMMEs to access larger domestic and international markets.

The country is firmly on track with its industrialisation plans which are underpinned by sector master plans to rejuvenate and grow key industries such as the Poultry Master Plan.

Government has also worked closely with the auto sector to help it weather the pandemic.

By the end of the year, the sector had recovered around 70% of its normal annual production, in difficult circumstances.

Employment stimulus

The third priority intervention is an employment stimulus to create jobs and support livelihoods.

The largest numbers of jobs,says the President, will be created by the private sector in a number of industries as the economy recovers.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Employment Stimulus is one of the most significant expansions of public and social employment in South Africa’s history.

By the end of January 2021, over 430 000 opportunities had already been supported through the stimulus.

Expanding energy generation

The fourth priority intervention of the ERRP is to rapidly expand energy generation capacity.

The President says restoring Eskom to operational and financial health and accelerating its restructuring process was central to this objective.

“This will lay the foundations for an efficient, modern and competitive energy system,” he says, adding that the power utility was making substantial progress with its intensive maintenance and operational excellence programmes to improve the reliability of its coal fleet.

“We are working closely with Eskom on proposals to improve its financial position, manage its debt and reduce its dependence on the fiscus,” he says. - SAnews.gov.za.