Interventions to mitigate effects of technical recession

Cape Town � President Jacob Zuma says government will forge ahead and implement pro-growth intervention measures to reignite growth after South Africa's economy recently slipped into a technical recession.

He said this when responding to oral questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane had asked an urgent question, which was included on the list on the 11th hour, on how government would respond to the technical recession and which sections of the economy would be used to re-ignite growth.

In order to ensure that we can turn the economy around in the shortest possible time, we are drawing on the experience of 2008 and 2009 when the economy had previously been in recession.

Top of our priorities will be to fast-track the implementation of pro-growth measures and structural reforms.

We are working to re-ignite growth informed by the Nine-Point Plan that we launched recently, he said.

The President said this not long after Statistics South Africa announced that the country's economy had slipped into a technical recession. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted to -0.7% in the first quarter of 2017.

The President said interventions that will be implemented to mitigate the effects of the technical recession will be in the areas of energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism, the oceans economy, mining, agriculture and Industrial Policy Action Plan, as well as managing workplace conflict.

She said government was also improving South Africa's exports to the rest of the continent and reclaiming parts of the domestic market.

He said macro-economic reform, together with ensuring more local spend by government, will also assist.

Unlocking new investment and ensuring better coordination across a range of economic policy instruments available to the state and with our social partners will be important, he said.

The President said there were a number of initiatives aimed at re-igniting growth including:

Boosting the rate of investment in the economy through initiatives like a one stop shop in the form of Invest South Africa that was launched recently; and

bolstering investment in infrastructure. In this regard, the last Cabinet Lekgotla received a report on a road maintenance programme that provides livelihoods and income to about 14 000 people in KwaZulu-Natal, largely women-headed households.

He said there was a need to speed up competition in the economy.

The President said competition authorities are currently embarking on far-reaching investigations of various markets, ranging from healthcare to transport and grocery retail.

These market inquiries will help to ensure that more dynamic markets can merge in key sectors of the economy, he said.

President Zuma said that government was also speeding up efforts to ensure there is regulatory certainty.

This will include areas such as spectrum allocation, the Independent Power Producer procurement programmes and land reform to so that investors have greater clarity on public policy, the President said.

We need to focus on turning around poorly performing state-owned companies so that they are able to produce key utilities to the economy on a reliable and cost-effective basis.

We are deepening our efforts on social partnerships. The honourable member would have seen the results of these efforts from the broad agreement on the National Minimum Wage. More efforts to build partnerships with business and labour will be pursued.

These efforts, together with measures to boost youth employment and deepen trade relations with the rest of the continent, will form part of our coordinated package to keep the technical recession as short as possible and to re-ignite economic growth.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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