Economy not growing fast enough: Gordhan

One of the biggest challenges facing the South African economy was that it was not growing fast enough and a number of bodies‚ including labour‚ needed to work together to address this challenge‚ Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

Gordhan was addressing trade union UASA’s sixth national congress in Boksburg on the state of the economy and the collaborative role of the social partners in trying to avoid a ratings downgrade by international ratings agencies.

His address comes just less than a week before he presents the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament next Wednesday.

“How do we get higher levels of growth? How do we shake this high number of unemployment?

“How do we ensure that over five million young people see hope for themselves? How do we give young people exposure to work experience?” Gordhan quizzed.

Gordhan suggested that all partners - labour‚ government and society - needed to create an environment where “we inspire confidence in our economy”‚ and that there was cooperation by all role-players.

“Secondly‚ we need to focus a lot on the question of growing the economy‚ of getting local capital to understand that South Africa gives opportunities to make profits.

“The third factor that goes with this is a question of confidence‚” Gordhan said.

Gordhan said the country could do a lot more‚ not just by talking but by acting in a particular way and believing that the solution lay within the country.

“Nobody else would come and say ‘we will change the economy for you‚ you can relax’. We have to take this responsibility ourselves‚” Gordhan said.

He said one of the tough things he was going to talk about during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement was that as a result of low growth‚ the package of money available to the country was limited.

Gordhan refused to comment on his upcoming fraud case on November 2.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced on October 11 that Gordhan‚ together with two former South African Revenue Service officials‚ will be charged with fraud and will appear in court on November 2.

When approached for comment outside the conference‚ Gordhan said his lawyers were dealing with the matter.

“I am going back to my office to prepare for the MTBPS‚ or the mini budget‚” Gordhan said.