Infrastructure drive 'key to job creation'
16 August 2012
South Africa's state-led infrastructure drive will be crucial in realising the country's target of creating five-million new jobs by 2020 by improving the competitiveness of core industries while opening up new opportunities for them, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Responding to a question in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Motlanthe said that while South Africa had made some progress in job creation, the country still has a while to go.
Motlanthe was cautiously optimistic about the latest Labour Force Survey, which showed that over 300 000 new jobs were created by the end of 2011.
"This is no cause for celebration since we believe that there is a long road ahead, and thus we are accelerating measures to increase employment through public sector interventions as well as assisting the private sector to create more jobs."
Motlanthe singled out the newly adopted National Infrastructure Plan as key to stimulating employment creation by improving the competitiveness of core industries while opening up new opportunities for them.
He said this would primarily be done through the Durban/Free State/Gauteng corridor and the opening up of the Northern Mining Belt, as well as securing the country's energy supply and upgrading the ports.
Major investments would also go towards increasing the access of historically deprived regions to the core economy through improved roads, rail and communications, as well as enhancing productivity through investments in household and economic infrastructure and in social capital.
The Deputy President said job creation was heavily pinned on construction projects for the infrastructure build programme.
Maximising local procurement of inputs for infrastructure projects would also ensure the greatest possible multiplier effect from the build programme.
South Africa has also streamlined key elements of its regulatory framework to help bolster the outcomes for job creation. Motlanthe said crucial steps had been taken in this regard, including:
- Enhancements to the mining licensing and environmental impact assessment systems.
- The establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency.
- The development of an "unblocking" project in the Economic Development Department, which has assisted large employment-creating projects to overcome unnecessary bureaucratic delays.
- Continued efforts to simplify tax administration.
Motlanthe said the government had also initiated major programmes to support key economic sectors in the country.
"These include the auto industry scheme, which has already led to billions of rand in new investment; the clothing and textiles scheme, which has stabilised this critical labour-intensive industry; continued support for business process services, which has already succeeded in creating tens of thousands of new jobs; and a number of programmes to bolster agro-processing."
In spite of the current slowdown in the global economy, the Deputy President said the government remained confident that these measures would go a long way towards helping South Africa to create new jobs.