The South African government and business met this week and emerged with another promise to collaborate for economic development despite persistence of dissonance in critical areas.
Business and government are yet to find one another on the labour legislation and specifically around amendments underway. Business has attacked these amendments as unfriendly to enterprise development but government under the watchful eye of labour has proceeded with them. There is also no sign that government is heeding business lament that South Africa needs a deep review of its regulatory environment which is largely deemed in business circles as disabling.
On the other hand, government laments the apparent refusal of business to come to the party in terms of capital expenditure. Key government officials have attacked business for opting to keep money in the bank when this money can be invested in the real economy.
However a statement issued by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) seems to be telling a different story.
The statement said this week’s meeting was a follow up to the February gathering where business made a proposal to identify key issues that could boost the economy and along the lines envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP). The statement said the areas identified for immediate action are considered important game changers and are also in line with the NDP.
In this week’s meeting business tabled for discussion five key themes. These proposals included:
- collaborative efforts between government and business to improve education and skills development outcomes,
- a regulatory environment conducive to investment and ease of doing business,
- a labour relations environment that instills investor confidence
- Infrastructure roll out program that recognizes government’s role to roll out public investment while also recognising the private sector’s role as a provider of skills, technical and project management capacity as well as funding
- Specific measures to ensure inclusive economic growth through implementation of transformation legislation and interventions. This will also be achieved by giving the required support for small and medium enterprises.
“The meeting re-affirmed the need to move with urgency in implementing the NDP. In the light of the challenges that continue to plague our economy, there was broad agreement that business and government need to work collaboratively towards achieving the objectives of the NDP. To this end, it was agreed that technical teams co-chaired by business and government would be established. These teams would develop an action plan with measurable outcomes for endorsement by the high level meeting in three months’ time”.