This is an edited version of a statement issued at the conclusion of the consultative meeting between the government and the business community ahead of the State of the Nation Address.

The government and business will meet within two months to iron out obstacles to economic growth, it was decided at a meeting in Pretoria yesterday, hosted by President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and economic cluster cabinet ministers.

The meeting was convened by the president to share ideas on the country’s priorities ahead of the State of the Nation Address. The business delegations were led by Business Unity SA (Busa) president Jabu Mabuza and Black Business Council (BBC) president Ndaba Ntsele.

It arose from a request by the business community at the World Economic Forum in Davos, that business be afforded an opportunity to engage with the government on priorities ahead of the address. The meeting focused on the importance of achieving employment-creating economic growth and on deeper co-operation between the government and business.

President Zuma said: “As government and business we share the goal of building a prosperous society, free of poverty, inequality and unemployment. We share the goal of promoting a strong and positive South African brand. We therefore need to work very closely together, especially at this critical period when our economy is affected by the harsh European economic meltdown that refuses to go away. We have to find a way to cushion the economy, improve our growth prospects and create much-needed jobs. Whenever we pull together, we manage to achieve a lot for our country and its people.”

Mabuza pointed out that the economy needed to grow three-fold by 2030 to have the capability to deal with the socio-economic challenges facing the country, in terms of the National Development Plan.

“Seventy-five percent of the jobs must come from the private sector. We are engaging our members to point out three to five constraints that make it difficult for business to triple the size of the economy by 2030,” Mabuza said. It was agreed to meet within two months to deal with these impediments to growth.

The government delegation raised critical issues including how to get business to absorb 11 000 Further Education and Training college graduates sitting at home. The BBC raised the importance of improving implementation mechanisms for government programmes.

Business appreciated the recognition of its partnership with the government.