President Cyril Ramaphosa. FILE PHOTO

DURBAN - A group of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) has urged president Cyril Ramaphosa to act urgently and decisively to accelerate economic growth in the country. 

Ramaphosa met with the leaders on Thursday to discuss how business and government could work together to address the urgent socio-economic challenges facing the country. 

The CEOs emphasised that while progress was being made on addressing corruption and state capture, the combination of near zero economic growth, high levels of unemployment and escalating violence represented a crisis for the country. 

They called on the president to act urgently and assured him that the private sector was willing to link arms with the government to address South Africa's challenges.

The CEOs highlighted that unless economic growth accelerated rapidly, poverty, unemployment and social instability would continue to worsen. 

In addition, the current fiscal trajectory - and the country's last investment grade rating from Moodys - was unsustainable without higher levels of economic growth.

The CEOs expressed confidence that the government, led by Ramaphosa, could resolve the challenges. 

They urged the president to prioritise growth enhancing policies and emphasised that sustainable economic growth must be at the centre of the country's strategic direction.

To this end, the CEOs offered to assist the government with private sector skills to address gaps in the capacity of the state, which had been diminished by the effects of state capture. The offer was welcomed by the president, according to the leaders.

The CEOs urged Ramaphosa to lead government in implementing critical short and medium term, macro and micro-structural economic reforms, to lift confidence and provide more certainty for investors, and in so doing boost economic growth. 

These reforms included simplifying and making “user friendly” visa regulations for tourists and skilled personnel, the issuing of spectrum and announcing a clear and sustainable strategic, operational and financial plan for Eskom, including the appointment of a world class CEO.

The CEOs stated their support for the growth plan released by the finance minister for public comment. The plan uses solid, evidence-based policies as a basis to kickstart economic reforms to boost private sector investment in the economy and drive higher levels of inclusive economic growth.

Finally, the CEOs committed to increasing the pace of initiatives to broaden economic inclusion, including supporting the work of the Youth Employment Service, the SME Fund, and other private sector initiatives that would drive job creation and small business growth.

African News Agency (ANA)