Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called for a “new social contract” between the government, business and labour to deliver on the goals set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).
Speaking at a post-Budget breakfast (hosted by the National and KZN Treasuries) in Durban yesterday, Gordhan said that the NDP could not be achieved if there was an adversarial relationship among the three.
The plan, a vision of where South Africa should be by 2030, would only be attainable with a new narrative of stakeholders working together.
“In support of the NDP, there are various government programmes and incentives to create jobs and grow the economy… The private sector and labour have an important role to play. We have all these programmes in place but they can’t work unless there is a new spirit of collaboration,” he said.
Labour federation Cosatu has been one of the most vocal critics of the NDP, labelling it a “reworked version of government’s 1990s-era Gear strategy”, referring to the Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy.
It also shot down Gordhan’s original proposal for a youth wage subsidy.
But in Durban yesterday, Gordhan reiterated his call for consensus.
“We need a level of agreement to deal with the economic issues we face and to create jobs... unless we work together, we are not going to take advantage of the opportunities the world offers, because it is a competitive world out there.
“We spend too much time haggling among ourselves, so much time... How do we apply ourselves collectively to exploit opportunities or create opportunities?” he asked.
For 20 years, the government had focused on increasing access to health and education but, as part of the NDP, for the next 20 years, the focus would move to delivering quality.
Gordhan said while progress had been achieved since 1994, there were still many deep-seated challenges.
“One of the debates in the media currently is: do we still blame apartheid? But to answer that we need to ask ourselves, have places like KwaMashu, Umlazi and Phoenix disappeared? In other words, has the spatial form of apartheid changed?
“One of the things that the NDP plans to address is how, more consciously, we change and integrate our cities in terms of spatial development and planning,” he said.
Gordhan said when the “current administration” came in five years ago, the “great recession” had just hit the global economy and people “forget the kind of damage it caused to the economy”.
We lost R60bn in tax revenue and a million jobs. We have bounced back, but not high enough. We have not fully overcome the negative impact of the recession,” Gordhan said.