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Standing committee discusses factors that affect the growth of towns in the Western Cape

Cederberg, Oudtshoorn and Laingsburg were classified as having low potential, while Prince Albert and Beaufort West were classified as very low. File Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Cederberg, Oudtshoorn and Laingsburg were classified as having low potential, while Prince Albert and Beaufort West were classified as very low. File Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 25, 2022

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Cape Town - The issues of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), the minimum wage and economic attacks on the middle classes have been suggested by members of the legislature as factors that prevent economic growth in the province.

These topics emerged during a briefing of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on the growth potential of towns in the Western Cape.

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The briefing focused specifically on the Province’s Growth Potential Study (GPS) which looks at factors that support or inhibit growth, the availability or lack of bulk infrastructure, other factors that determine the demand for growth, and the expectations for growth.

The department’s Intelligence Management and Research Unit’s Dylan Johnstone told the committee that an effective and efficient spatial governance system is a pre-requisite for creating an enabling environment for the economic sectors.

He said GPS, first developed in 2004, was one of the crucial instruments needed to develop capabilities for effective spatial decision-making and implementation.

“The study can and should be used as a decision support about where public and private investment in the form of projects should be prioritised and, importantly, the nature of this investment, that is where investment should be prioritised,” Johnstone said.

He said six municipalities in the province were classified as very high development potential – Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, George, Theewaterskloof, Overstrand and Mossel Bay.

Johnstone said the GPS classified the municipalities of Bergrivier, Knysna, Swartland and Saldanha Bay as having high potential, while Breede Valley, Hessequa, Cape Agulhas, Matzikama, Swellendam, Langeberg and Witzenberg were classified as having medium potential.

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Cederberg, Oudtshoorn and Laingsburg were classified as having low potential, while Prince Albert and Beaufort West were classified as very low.

He said a full review of GPS research, including growth potential conceptualisation and research framework, would be initiated in the 2022/23 Western Cape Government financial year to coincide with the scheduled release of Census 2022.

During the comments that followed the presentation Freedom Front MPL Peter Marais wanted to know how labour laws and issues such as the minimum wage and BBBEE affected investments in rural economies versus urban economies.

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“Is creeping socialism destroying the economy of the Western Cape? When businesses find it unprofitable to operate in rural areas, do they migrate to urban areas?”

MPL Beverley Schäfer (DA) who was standing in for committee member Gillion Bosman (DA) asked the officials from the department how the political landscape affected investment across the province/

“We know there is a direct correlation between good, well-performing municipalities and growth and investment attraction.”

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