Premier says at least 14 new investments worth R2.2bn targeted for IDZs
THOUSANDS of jobs, new investments and efforts to end Nelson Mandela Bay’s water and electricity crisis were some of the bold plans announced by Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle yesterday (20/02)
Masualle delivered his state of the province address to some of the province’s most powerful politicians, business people, religious leaders and other dignitaries at the Bhisho legislature.
The Coega and East London industrial development zones took centre stage as catalysts for economic growth.
The government is targeting at least 14 new investments for the province’s two IDZs at a total of R2.237-billion.
In this financial year, Masualle said, Coega was expected to create 8 000 jobs while the ELIDZ and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation planned to create 5 500 and 7 000 jobs respectively.
Coega spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi said in fact they expected to create 14 588 jobs by the end of the 2014-2015 financial year.
“Of this, 448 jobs are permanent, which is a mixture of skilled and semi-skilled in the IDZ, created by our investors.” Vilakazi said the rest of the jobs were in projects that Coega was doing for government departments.
The IDZ is targeting a further 20 198 jobs in the next financial year, about 11 000 in construction, 493 are operational jobs and the rest for infrastructure projects for government departments.
Masualle’s announcement is welcome news for a province which shed 42 000 jobs in the last three months of last year.
Masualle said: “As part of promoting the province as an investment destination of choice, we are developing an investment promotion strategy aimed at creating an enabling environment for vibrant economic growth in the province.
“In the coming year, jobs will be created in manufacturing, logistics, alternative energy, agro-processing and services.
“We will also offer export support to business through [the] ECDC,” Masualle said.
At a media briefing earlier, Masualle said his administration would intervene in Nelson Mandela Bay’s water crisis.
While water was a national and local government competency, Bhisho would do what they could to assist the metro as they too were concerned about the situation.
“We won’t sit back and fold our arms. Residents deserve clean, safe water. We need to sit down and look at the specifics and exact nature of the problem. Definitely, we will participate in answering that problem,” Masualle said.
Masualle also announced that a rapid response team would be put together by government to “engage industry on mitigating the negative impact of power outages”.
Masualle said the team would also work with the Department of Trade and Industry to provide more comprehensive package incentives to support businesses.
Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler said: “We regard this as a business critical issue that needs urgent action and creative solutions as business has suffered from uncompetitive pricing and interruptions in power supply for far too long.
“There is a compelling need for a strong suite of incentives for Nelson Mandela Bay to enhance business competitiveness and sustainability.”
DA leader in Bhisho Athol Trollip said Masualle’s address was “a very flat affair”.
“The premier must be commended for his plans for the Eastern Cape economy and job creation, as well as his reference to the state of rural and arterial roads in the province. We welcome his stance on the provision of reliable electricity and the role of green energy therein.
“We also appreciate his call for fiscal discipline . . .”
However, he criticised Masualle for not focusing much attention on corruption.
EFF provincial MPL Dinga Peter felt that Masualle delivered a lacklustre speech.
“It was vague and speaks of intentions. The time for intentions is over. We need to talk time-frames. You can’t account on intentions.”
-Nwabisa Makunga and Rochelle de Kock