Gordhan: Time to create jobs
It was time to focus more on delivery than talk about job creation, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said yesterday as he declared the government’s Jobs Fund open for business.
Announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address in February, the Jobs Fund will see R9 billion invested by way of grants, rather than loans, over the next three years, with R2bn of that set aside for this financial year.
The scheme would be run by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which had a footprint in more than 200 municipalities and had done “excellent work” in facilitating development projects, Gordhan said.
“We want a competitive environment in which as many private sector companies, NGOs and government entities as possible come forward with ideas,” he said.
Applicants for funding with innovative ideas for creating job opportunities, for young people in particular, were most likely to find favour.
Gordhan said the fund’s four areas of focus included:
* Enterprise development: investment in product development, local processing and marketing support (a big issue for rural entrepreneurs battling to reach consumers).
* Infrastructure investment: helping people create local markets, light manufacturing zones and communication links with the rest of the country.
* Support for work-seekers through better information about careers and training.
* Institutional capacity-building.
Development Bank deputy chairman Frans Baleni, who heads the Jobs Fund investment committee, said applications could be submitted as of yesterday. The closing date is July 31. Details are available on www.jobfund.org.za or at 086 100 3272 toll-free.
A Treasury document said the fund was aimed at established companies with a good track record and plans to expand programmes or pilot novel approaches to job creation, with a focus on youth, who make up the bulk of the unemployed.
Brian Whittaker, Baleni’s deputy on the investment committee, which will be weighing the merits of applications, said the fund “acknowledges we’ve got a problem – very high numbers of… young people are out of work”.
It was also an acknowledgement that jobs were not created by governments. The fund provided a chance to do something innovative and allow for risks to be taken, releasing a creativity in dealing with the unemployment problem, he said.
Paul Kibuuka, head of development finance at the Development Bank, said the aim was to create 150 000 jobs over three years. - The Mercury