South African president’s economic recovery plan welcomed

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15; 2018: President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is talking to media at the end of an EU - South-Africa Summit meeting on climate change, migration to trade and security, in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter on November 15, 2018. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
File Photo: President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

South Africa’s economists and labor sector on Thursday welcomed a new economic recovery plan unveiled by President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying it could boost the country’s economic growth if properly implemented.

“It’s a well comprehensive plan that addresses the important issues,” said Jannie Rossouw, head of School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ramaphosa unveiled the plan in parliament earlier on Thursday as the country’s economic growth was projected to contract by over 8 percent in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. Over 2 million jobs have been lost since April.

The country would commit 100 billion rand (6 billion U.S. dollars) over the next three years to create jobs through public and social employment as the labor market recovers, said the president.

“This starts now, with over 800,000 employment opportunities created in the months ahead,” he said.

Ramaphosa added the country’s Infrastructure Fund will also provide 100 billion rand (6 billion dollars) in catalytic finance over the next decade, leveraging as much as 1 trillion rand (60 billion dollars) in new investment for strategic infrastructure projects.

Rossouw said the plan addresses a number of issues facing the country.

“There’s renewed focus on law and order, on rooting out corruption, and the president made it clear that the country can’t continue borrowing money,” he said, adding the financial implications of the plan would be known when the medium-term budget speech by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is tabled next week.

Meanwhile, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a labor federation in the country, said it welcomed the plan while warning about corruption.

“We welcome investments in ports, rail, energy, roads and water. However, the government needs to ensure that corruption does not enter this massive 1-trillion-rand program,” COSATU spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.