Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana says topping his “to-do list” to bolster SA’s economic growth includes reforming the electricity supply, addressing spectrum issues and improving logistics infrastructure and capacity at ports.
In a speech on Thursday at the Sunday Times National Investment Dialogue virtual event, he reiterated government’s commitment towards addressing major structural economic issues, effectively backing his predecessor
Tito Mboweni’s “Operation Vulindlela” reform plan. Godongwana struck a pragmatic tone, saying that an inclusive economy led by local investors is central to the country’s economic recovery plan. He said this was key to addressing the high unemployment, poverty and inequality challenges SA faces.
“The [reform] plan envisages new investments in energy, water and sanitation, roads and bridges, human settlements, health and education, digital infrastructure, and public transport,” he said.
“We need investment, particularly domestic investment.”
Godongwana acknowledged that SA had increasingly become unattractive to investors, citing never-ending red tape as the common deterrent.
He said there needed to be a move to remove the regulatory burden that comes with investing in the country for an increase in the appetite for investment. Godongwana said the country’s economic recovery should prioritise attracting local investors and making the investment environment conducive for them before looking to global investors.
“One of the things we’ve got to do is to deal with the practical [ways] of making sure that business[es] that want to do business in South Africa can do it before we can travel and go and invite other people from overseas,” he said.
“People in South Africa want to go about their business and invest, and we must allow them to invest and then we can tell others they must come and invest in South Africa.”
Fellow panellists said government was not short of good ideas and policies, but failed at implementing them. This, they agreed, contributed to the continued sluggish economic growth.
Another key sentiment expressed was that an accelerated vaccination programme will remain a key driver of economic growth and that SA’s programme is not moving at the desired pace.