Market watchers hope President Cyril Ramaphosa will present practical measures to kickstart the economy out of the Covid pandemic when he presents the 2021 State of the Nation address today. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Market watchers hope President Cyril Ramaphosa will present practical measures to kickstart the economy out of the Covid pandemic when he presents the 2021 State of the Nation address today. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

SONA: Business wants pragmatic plan to fix the SA economy

By Edward West Time of article published Feb 11, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - MARKET watchers hope President Cyril Ramaphosa will present practical measures to kickstart the economy out of the Covid pandemic and fix broken parastatals when he presents the 2021 State of the Nation address today.

The rand, at under R15 to the dollar, is back to about where it was at last year’s Sona, having weakened considerably to above the R19 to the dollar mark in April as the Covid-19 panic took hold of the markets, but, according to Peregrine Treasury Solutions executive director, Bianca Botes, its strength over the past few months has more to do with global factors such as fiscal stimulus, risk-on sentiment and the hunt for yield, rather than the easing of lockdown restrictions locally.

“As local focus shifts to President Ramaphosa’s speech, we will be watching carefully for any insights into government’s economic policies, as well as how government intends to address the glaring issues at state-owned enterprises such as Eskom and SAA, which continue to weigh heavily on the country’s already overburdened balance sheet,” she said.

“What South Africa needs is a pragmatic plan for reviving the economy. With unemployment at an all-time high, we need to see plans and policies that speak to this critical challenge,” said The Business Exchange’s chief executive, David Seinker.

He said one of the most effective ways to create employment, and perhaps the only sustainable way, was to provide SMEs and entrepreneurs with the support they needed to start and grow businesses.

“Simply, SONA needs to be less aspirational and more practical,” he said.

Spear capital partner Bryan Turner said that while Ramaphosa did a good job of attracting new investment to SA prior to the pandemic, he would need to act with greater urgency to revive the economy.

Hoorah Digital’s chief commercial officer Shaune Jordaan said they were hoping to see strategies that outline plans for growing a digital economy. “Digital systems, by their nature, were geared for efficiency, particularly when it came to cost,” he said.

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