21 February 2013

South Africa: Economy SA Focus 'In This Gloomy Time'


South Africa's economy is the principal focus at this time and this will become clear next week when the budget is presented. Replying to the debate on the State of the National Address, President Jacob Zuma said in the National Assembly on Thursday that the current deficit and debt levels needed to be addressed in the budget next Wednesday.

He appealed to all South Africans to find issues where they "put South Africa first", for example, by capitalising on the country's status as an investment destination.

Leading companies like Grant Thornton and Ernst & Young had pointed out this potential, he said. In the past year, in ranking the 27 largest emerging economies, South Africa had climbed one place to 14th position, according to Grant Thornton. Ernst and Young also said fundamentals were sound, with a steady acceleration expected in the medium term. Recently R800m was invested in Boksburg by Unilever, one of their largest commitments. Nestle had also opened two new factories in Babelegi near Pretoria as part of R500m investment, creating 130 jobs, he added.

Restoring stability in the mining sector was important, President Zuma said in response to some of the points raised by MPs during the State of the Nation debate.

Referring to the National Development Plan, President Zuma said the first draft of the 2014/2019-aligned plan was expected to be ready by the July Cabinet lekgotla and implemented from 2014, after the elections.

"We want to arrive at the South Africa envisaged in 2019, 25 years after 1994. As we move to the 20th anniversary of freedom there should be a common thread of patriotism that binds us all, that we can rally around," President Zuma said.

He promised to act against those who asked for membership cards, when unemployed people applied for public jobs. "South Africa must benefit all of us. We must be constructive and help the country to move forward. Elections come and go, but we all have a patriotic duty to build and promote our country," he said.

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