Deputy President David Mabuza delivers the keynote address at the 23rd annual Summit of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) at the Saint George's Hotel and Conference Centre in Pretoria. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS.

PRETORIA - Deputy President David Mabuza on Friday charged the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to deliberate and come up with solutions to counter the massive economic headwinds tormenting the South African economy at the moment.

"When you met last, you met under the uncomfortable economic condition in the wake of the 2017 sovereign ratings downgrade. Today, we meet at a time of great economic challenges facing our country," said Mabuza. 

"These challenges include sluggish economic growth leading to slow employment opportunities for our people and in certain sectors, job losses that further compound the challenge of poverty and inequality in our country." 

He was addressing Nedlac's 23rd annual summit in Pretoria.

Mabuza said the country's revenue was declining, and the SA Revenue Services (Sars) indicating a negative revenue collection outcome. 

"We have also encountered an economic decline in the last two quarters showing successive decline. Our inflation outlook is increasingly perilous, the effects of a VAT increase, Rand-dollar exchanges and high fuel prices are beginning to impose their weighty implications."

Deputy President David Mabuza addressing delegates at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) annual summit in Pretoria. MEDIA: ANA Reporter

He said both consumer and business confidence was showing strain.

Mabuza said that sectors needed to work with government to assist treasury to develop "appropriate stimulus measures to cushion the poor and re-start the economy".

"We must all have the courage and conviction in lifting our country out of this economic challenges. We must stand together to engineer the path of unity of purpose. This will at times require surgical and difficult austerity measures."

Nedlac is tasked to ensure effective public participation in the labour market and socio-economic policy and legislation; and to facilitate consensus and cooperation between government, labour, business and the community in dealing with South Africa's socio-economic challenges.

Mabuza told delegates that South Africa is known for introducing world-class policies, but had an equal notoriety for lack of implementation.  

"This must change. Our inequality levels are far too high. The wage differentials, the historical disadvantages and low levels of education and skills, demand of us all to care more about the poor. We are also acutely aware that this socio-economic pain, is borne most by young people in general and women in particular," he said.

"These conditions make urgent the need to cushion the poor from the effects of the economic decline. We urgently need to complete our work on a comprehensive social security and retirement reform system, which is affordable, sustainable and appropriate for South Africa. Most importantly, we have to graduate our people out of poverty by creating opportunities for young people and women."

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African News Agency (ANA)