Productivity SA outlines plan for post Covid-19 to boost growth
JOHANNESBURG: Productivity SA has prepared a document with a four-pronged approach on the way forward to boost South Africa's economic growth beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.
The entity, tasked with promoting employment growth in South Africa, said on Tuesday that the document was being submitted to the Department of Employment and Labour for use in Nedlac deliberations, leading to urgent interventions, co-ordinated by the Department of Labour and Productivity SA.
Professor Mthunzi Mdwaba, the chairman of Productivity SA board, said: “The Covid-19 crisis when compared to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008/9, referred to as a car crash, is now being referred to as a train wreck.”
With South Africa in its fifth week of lockdown, the economy has ground to a halt, with gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to decline to unprecedented level, more than 1 million job losses predicted this year and the closure of thousands of businesses expected.
Productivity SA said the duality nature and structure of the South African economy required urgent restructuring and reform, which must be built on policy coherence and policy certainty across the government, a close collaborative effort between the government, business and labour; a commitment to ensure that the linkages between the primary and secondary productive sectors of the economy were maximised; as well as a combined and constructive drive to overcome the key constraints to manufacturing-led, value-adding growth, with special emphasis on labour-intensive sectors as advanced in the Sector Master Plans, such as agro-processing and clothing and textiles.
The four-pronged approach is:
First: an Integrated Training and Skills Development Ecosystem, Strategy and Programmes to encourage life-long learning that calls for strengthening of South Africa’s human capital, which can help guide both public-sector and private sector organisations to create retraining engines to enable lifelong learning.
Second: an Integrated Enterprise Development Ecosystem to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises, with a focus on mall, medium and macro enterprises (SMMEs); a policy decision that financial support by DFAs (SEFA, Industrial Development Corporation , National Empowerment Fund etc.) to SMMEs should be linked to productivity outcomes, and that non-financial (Enterprise Development Programmes) support should be co-ordinated.
Third : an Integrated Research and Innovation Ecosystem to ensure the provision of productivity and competitiveness related value-added information and statistics to inform evidence-based planning as well as monitoring and evaluating the impact of South Africa's interventions. In this regard, Productivity SA said it was currently forging relations with Institutions of Higher Learning such as University of the Western Cape and University of Pretoria as well as international organisations such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) sought to drive the productivity movement. .
Fourth: the development of a national Productivity Movement to promote a stronger culture of productivity at all levels and build awareness of the importance of and new mind-set about productivity in South Africa, which could pave the way for many more ‒ and more highly paid ‒ jobs and ultimately a more inclusive society.
Mdwaba said there was a general lack of appreciation of the role of productivity in the country.
"The lack of productivity culture and accountability thereof, as well as policy framework and failure to deploy resources to promote productivity, is impacting negatively on the competitiveness and economic growth of the country," he said.
Mothunye Mothiba, the chief executive of Productivity SA, said: “The lack of a productivity culture as well as accountability to unlock the productivity potential of the country at national, sector and at enterprise level results in the exclusion of the majority of South Africans from the mainstream economy of the country and unfortunately the low economic growth due to factors brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic is going to worsen the country‘s socio-economic situation”.
He said it was crucial for South Africa to emulate the productivity policies and frameworks adopted by the countries with a Competitiveness Score / Index Value of more than 70 to unlock the potential of productivity to improve competitiveness and sustain economic growth.South Africa wasranked 60th out of 141 economies on the 2019 World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index.