Hon Speaker and Chairperson of NCOP Mr President, Mr Deputy President Honourable members Good afternoon In order to deal with the economic challenges our country is facing, President Ramaphosa stood before this august house last week, and presented South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan. Fundamentally, the plan outlined by the President is about the continuation of the transformation of our society towards creating a better life for all. I think we can all agree that meaningful transformation of our society can only be achieved by building an economy that is growing in an inclusive manner. Our economy has been underperforming for an extended period and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has further deepened our economic crisis, by amongst other things, disrupting the global value chains. This health crisis that turned into severe economic crisis has happened at a time when we are just about to enter the last decade of the National Development Plan, our 2030 Vision. The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. The plan that is a subject of debate today outlines the work that should be done to make it possible for our country to achieve this vision. Honourable members, The Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is a product of lengthy and robust discussions amongst the social partners, government, labour, business and civil society who came together at NEDLAC. Although there are areas that are still subject of ongoing discussions amongst the social partners, the plan outlines major areas in which social partners have agreed and committed to work together. The NEDLAC agreements and ongoing discussions are a clear demonstration that when faced with challenges, South Africans are able to put the interest of country first and come together and work towards resolving the country’s challenges. Social partners have agreed that for our country to recover and grow at a pace that will restore growth and the capacity utilisation in our economy, there needs to be a focus on the implementation of the plan in the following areas:
Many people have been telling us that the problem in our country is not lack of planning but the implementation of our plans. It is true that the success of the plan, as outlined by the President, relies on the capacity of our government to successfully implement the plan. It is for this reason that the plan has identified the capable state as one of its key enablers. Attention is being paid in ensuring that the right skills are deployed in the critical areas where the projects will be implemented in the recovery programme. Moreover, following the completion of the plan, we have also put together an implementation plan that identifies the various key projects, identifies the stakeholders responsible for the implementation of each project and also outlines timelines for completion of each project. The implementation plan is broken down into areas for immediate, medium to long term and long term implementation. To ensure there is close monitoring and evaluation, government is putting together structures to oversee the implementation of the reconstruction and recovery plan so as to avoid “mission drift”. The economic cluster will receive monthly reports which after processing, will be consolidated into a report that is submitted to the Vulindlela and Presidential team. This team will do an analysis and interrogation of the reports and submit them to the Economic Recovery Council. This will not only ensure constant monitoring of the implementation and impact of the plan but will ensure those given the responsibility to perform tasks are held accountable. One of the criticism that has been levelled against government is the slowness with which decisions that are important in facilitating economic activities are made. To address this challenge, the National Economic Recovery Council will be constituted comprising the relevant members of Cabinet to provide political oversight and enable rapid decision-making. The council’s priority will be to hasten decision making to unlock any blockages standing in the way of the implementation of the plan. Both the Vulindlela and Presidential team will assist with gathering information that will help to measure whether the economic, implementation and growth levels are consistent with the vision and goals of the overall plan. To keep track of the progress of the commitments made at NEDLAC, social partners have agreed to regularly present reports at the Presidential working group convened by President Ramaphosa. This will improve coordination amongst the social partners and also facilitate the fast–tracking of decision making that will catalyse the creation of a conducive environment for investment to flourish and build business confidence Honorable members, One of the key interventions that the plan has identified to be the key driver of the economy is the resuscitation of tourism, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. For the past decade, the tourism sector has been one of the best performing sectors of the economy here at home and the world over. However, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector’s supply and demand market came to a standstill for most of this year. Thus, a concerted effort has to be put in place to ensure that the sector recovers at a rapid rate. Our plan for recovery, had envisaged that the tourism recovery will start with domestic tourism, then followed by regional tourism which is mostly through our land borders, and the broader international tourism. We are already implementing our aggressive domestic marketing strategy, encouraging South Africans to travel their country since the end of the lockdown. The response to these campaigns has been overwhelming, South Africans have responded beyond expectations. The feedback I have been receiving from the sector is that domestic tourism has helped to put many tourism business back into operation and many jobs are being recovered in the sector. As we gradually open up our borders for international travel in accordance with the global pandemic risk levels, we will complement this with an aggressive international marketing strategy that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector. More business and jobs will be recovered when international travel goes to full recovery. Another key enabling factor for the success of the implementation of the plan will be our ability to deal decisively with the issue of criminality in all its manifestations. Whether it is the issue of violent crime whose manifestation undermines our efforts to grow the tourism sector, or corruption which robs the country the resources to invest in the future of our country or those who have decided to disrupt infrastructure projects through criminal action of demanding a percentage of the project or cartels and gangs who go around demanding protection fees from businesses and members of the community - it will not be tolerated. Law enforcement agencies are being resourced and strengthened to deal decisively with these actions that serve to undermine our work of building safer communities and growing our economy. I agree with the words attributed to Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress, who said “You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” Honorable members, standing here before you, I can say without fear of contradiction that government is committed to working together with all of you to reignite our economy. We are ready to make progress by successfully implementing our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. We call on all South Africans to join hands with us as we work towards this objective. Whether as workers doing your part to ensure increased productivity, or as businesses protecting the jobs and investing in our economy or as communities being the eyes and ears on the ground to stop crime and corruption, we all have a role to play. As members of parliament, you will be doing the country a great service by diligently playing your oversight role but you must also remember that you have a duty to be patriotic South Africans by not talking down our country. We have started to turn the tide, the South African Economy will rise again! I thank you.