3 February 2013

South Africa: Govt, Business to Address Country's Challenges Jointly

Pretoria — Government and business have agreed to work together to address some of the challenges facing the country.

This emerged at a meeting between government and the business sector at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Sunday.

The meeting was requested by the South African business community attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. Business had wanted an opportunity to engage with government on its priorities ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address on 14 February.

The meeting focused on the importance of achieving employment-creating economic growth and on deeper cooperation between government and business.

Speaking after the meeting, Zuma said government and business shared the goal of building a prosperous society, free of poverty, inequality and unemployment. "We share the goal of promoting a strong and positive South African brand," he said.

"We therefore need to work very closely together, especially at this critical period when our economy is affected by the harsh European economic meltdown that refuses to go away. We have to find a way to cushion the economy, improve our growth prospects and create much-needed jobs. Whenever we pull together, we manage to achieve a lot for our country and its people," he said.

He said that government had agreed to share ideas on the country's priorities with the business sector.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) President Jabu Mabuza said more could be achieved if government and business partnered together.

He pointed out that the country's economy needed to grow three-fold by 2030 to deal with the socio-economic challenges facing the country, in terms of the National Development Plan.

"Government and the business sector must have the same goal of improving the economy. We are engaging our members to point out three to five constraints that make it difficult for business to triple economic growth by 2030," he said.

In a statement, the Presidency said government and business would meet again in two months to iron out obstacles to economic growth. The parties also resolved to meet every quarter to discuss issues of common interest and deepen cooperation.

The BBC raised the issue of the importance of improving implementation mechanisms for government programmes.

The government delegation raised various issues, including how to get business to absorb 11 000 Further Education and Training college graduates currently sitting at home.

The meeting agreed to work on mechanisms to implement the social accords signed by business, labour, government and the community sector in 2011.

The business delegation was led by Mabuza and Black Business Council President Ndaba Ntsele, while government was represented by the President, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ministers from the economic cluster.

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