Questions over proposals to drive economic growth
However, while on the one hand tourism-promotion agencies try to lure visitors to our shores, strict visa regulations which make it difficult for people to get here mean development in the industry has been stifled.
Addressing this contradiction is among the Treasury’s proposals to drive economic growth and tackle the huge unemployment rate.
Acknowledging that the current economic trajectory is unsustainable and could only be turned around through “deliberate and concrete action”, Tito Mboweni’s department has released for public comment a plan to add one million jobs and boost the economy by at least 2%.
Aside from easing visa regulations and the much-awaited release of broadband spectrum, the plan more controversially proposes disposing of debt-ridden Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, theorising that this could raise about R450 billion.
The Treasury says Eskom should modernise its business, to take into account international developments as well as its own poor technical and commercial performance.
The separation of power generation assets, leaving Eskom to buy electricity from independent power producers and state-owned power generators, was also being explored.
While the Treasury said it had released the document to get the country involved in rebuilding the economy, we suspect the move is also designed to try and generate support for its more controversial proposals, like the Eskom plan which is bound to be opposed by the unions and some sections of the ANC.
It is also doubtful Eskom will realise R450bn from the sale of its power stations, but it is nevertheless encouraging that the government is considering getting rid of the ageing fleet.
Also encouraging was President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement on Thursday that the government would announce plans to reduce state debt in the mid-term budget, following on Mboweni’s promise in February that the government would reduce its wage bill by about R25bn over three years.
One proposal which could bear fruit quickly was for small businesses to receive full or partial exemptions from certain regulations, including labour laws, to lower start-up costs.