The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the opportunity to comment on the State of the Nation Address 2018. Firstly, we join the Republic of South Africa in congratulating our newly elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa. Our currency has strengthened since the outcome of the 54th ANC National elective conference and this outlines widespread optimism for his leadership. This is good news for business.
The Durban Chamber has taken particular note of the following salient issues highlighted by President Ramaphosa in his maiden State of the Nation Address of 2018 and we welcome the “new dawn” that his presidency promises.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to ethical behaviour and ethical leadership reaffirms the Durban Chamber’s ethical practice established by our Code of Ethics.
The manufacturing sector offers more job creation opportunities than most. It is a key sector in Durban and we acknowledge the President’s commitment to promoting investment within this sector.
The Durban Chamber applauds the President on the initiatives planned to reform the governance of state-owned entities. These institutions represent critical state infrastructure and cannot be left to operate in disarray and fall into mismanagement under our watch. They need to create added value to the nation and not be a drain on its finances. Healthy state owned enterprises will help reduce pressure on the fiscus.
Public- Private Partnerships
The Durban Chamber welcomes the opportunity to collaborate, as organised business, with Government in restoring confidence and preventing any further investment downgrades. A sound strategy cannot separate one from the other and any strategy for development must acknowledge our interdependence and reflect strong cooperation and collaboration starting with involvement in the process of solution formulation.
We believe that convening a Jobs Summit to strategise around unemployment will indeed be beneficial to the economy. This is in line with the vision of the Chamber to drive programmes and adopt economic development policies and strategies that lead to the creation of meaningful, sustainable jobs in both the public and private sectors. The Durban Chamber recommits to deepening our contribution to addressing this social issue.
The establishment of a task team to speed up the implementation of new projects, particularly water projects, health facilities and road maintenance is remarkable. Infrastructure is a catalyst to economic development. Therefore it is critical that Government provides and maintains a safe, secure, reliable, effective, efficient and fully integrated infrastructure network which meets the needs of individuals and businesses, while simultaneously facilitating local economic development and supporting government strategies and plans. The focus on skills for the digital age is critical to the attraction of investment into SA.
The Durban Chamber acknowledges President Cyril Ramaphosa for his stated commitment to small business development and for undertaking to set aside at least 30% of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural development enterprises in addition to reducing regulatory barriers. He has promised to roll out the red carpet for SMMEs instead of the usual red tape and the Chamber will certainly hold him to delivering on this key and fundamental issue for our members.
Fees Must Fall
In a bid to address the fees-must-fall movement, we are pleased that government has significantly prioritised higher education by starting this year to provide free education and training to first year students from households with a gross combined annual income of up to R 350 000.
National Health Insurance
The Durban Chamber calls for deeper engagement between private and public sectors to provide healthcare access to all in SA. The good health and wellbeing of the workforce is a critical factor for productivity and growth.
In conclusion, The Durban Chamber acknowledges the remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa to fight corruption, fraud and collusion. This reaffirms the Durban Chamber’s vision: “in Business for a Better World”. Very clear intentions have been communicated by the President to deal with corruption both in private and public sectors and this is encouraging, as is bringing governance in SEO leadership structures. President Ramaphosa has thrown down the gauntlet of “Thuma Mina” [send me], thus challenging each one of us to put our shoulder to the wheel to lift South Africa out of the economic quagmire. As the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we commit to supporting this vision and we are ready to “Seize the day!” as he has implored us to do.