File photo: Nadine Hutton.

Johannesburg - The World Bank has urged South Africa to adopt fundamental structural reforms in the economy to kick-start growth.

Catriona Purfield of the World Bank told Parliament yesterday that the projected growth of 0.8 percent this year could be avoided if the country undertook radical economic reforms.

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Purfield warned that unless something was done, the projected growth could increase poverty levels from 36 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2017.

She said it was still possible for the country to get out of the woods and reach the same levels that China reached a few years ago when it had embarked on serious reforms that pushed its growth to more than 7.2 percent a few years ago in spite of the other challenges it faced.

Purfield said among the reforms was a need to address infrastructure gaps and to improve education and skills levels as the country had one of the lowest pass rates in the region.

“Another reform is developing trade within Africa, it is very important for employment,” she said.

The World Bank had to revise South Africa’s growth down to 0.8 percent this year and 1.1 percent next year because of poor economic performance.

Purfield said South Africa was facing serious headwinds and it had to weather the storm.

She said South Africa had to provide quality education to be able to produce skilled individuals, adding that the tightening of competition laws would increase competition in different sectors of the economy.

Reforms in the economy and policy certainty would propel South Africa to growth, she said. “The world economy remained gloomy and South Africa would have to take these serious measures to get out of the woods.”