Cape Town - Economists and business leaders have said President Cyril Ramaphosa should ditch the usual broad statements about the economy in the State of the Nation Address (Sona) this Thursday and instead provide incentives for local and foreign investors by cutting red tape.
They said the removal of excessive legislation and policies that undermined investment was urgent if the economy was to recover.
Economic analyst Daniel Silke said: “Year in and year out, it’s the same story and every year these speeches seem to be weak. The time of talking in platitudes and generalities about job creation and about infrastructure is long gone.”
He said this year there had to be demonstrable policy and practice shifts from the government as the country was now in a crisis in its economic performance, the unemployment rate and also the broader issues of governance and security.
“All these matters are causing a sense of depression and demoralisation in South Africa and it is time for the president to step up to the plate.”
He said there had to be greater commitment from the government to welcome investors both local and foreign and one way to do this was by introducing measures to promote the ease of doing business.
“They need to lay down the red carpet and cut the red tape,” Silke said.
Business Leadership South Africa chief executive Busi Mavuso said she was hoping to hear a strong commitment to remove all the blockages while accelerating economic reforms and the rollout of infrastructure projects.
“While faster economic growth is the optimal route, organised business fully supports the need for expanded social support for the unemployed, and much is being done to facilitate this.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said this would be a difficult Sona for the president.
“The state of corruption is bad, as the report by the Special Investigating Unit shows. The economy and unemployment are bad. Crime is high and in general the state of the nation is not a good one.”
He said Ramaphosa would have to talk about short-term strategies to deal with these challenges.
Western Cape Property Development Forum’s Deon van Zyl proposed a single planning, environmental, heritage, water and agriculture growth Act for metropolitan cities, allowing for a one-stop decision-making process
He said infrastructure delivery and the activation of the government’s fixed-capital investment by mobilising it via the private sector to get things done must now be the national priority.
Black Business Chamber (BBC) secretary-general Mntuwekhaya Cishe said that the main issue they expect the president to address was the Relief Fund and facilities to assist Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs).
Launched during the Covid-19 lockdown, the Relief Fund aimed to shelter SMME’s against the impact of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.
“Those relief funds never really got to the hands of the small businesses because of a number of issues, but especially the red tape that surrounds the disbursement of those funds,” Cishe said.
Radisson Hotel Group senior area vice-president Tim Cordon said last year the travel and hospitality industry was disappointed with being largely left out of Ramaphosa’s immediate recovery plans announced in the Sona.
“We hope that this year’s Sona will outline more support to this critical job creating sector.”