Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane | How government plans province’s financial future

Unemployment
Unemployment
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Herman Verwey

We know the challenges faced by our province.

These include high unemployment, a sluggish economy, poverty and inequality.

Flowing from these challenges is a plethora of social ills.

We tabled the provincial government’s R82bn annual budget with which we want to continue the programmes of growing the country through provincial government departments and entities.

In this regard, we top-sliced R1.1bn as the provincial stimulus package to nudge our province towards the right economic climate.

The money is a kick-start because to fund businesses is to create access to finance for entrepreneurs to create opportunities to grow the economy.

Nationally, in line with ANC policies, the government is attracting investors to our country.

Some of these investors are investing in our province.

As we welcome these investments, the provincial government and the people of the Eastern Cape have a duty to make the environment conducive for the investors to ply their trade, grow their money and contribute to the economic growth of the province.

If we fail in this task, investors will go to other parts of the continent where they will be given all they need for their investments to succeed.

ANC leaders in municipalities and other entities have a duty to implement investment incentives and to make it easy for investment to thrive.

As part of that process, black suppliers are developed and given contracts, young people are trained and given jobs, as we see in the factories and plants in Nelson Mandela Bay, Coega IDZ, Buffalo City metro, East London IDZ and other parts of the province.

One of the shining examples in our country is the development of black suppliers by Volkswagen SA’s Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Trust Initiative, helping them to supply VW with parts and services.

We challenge all businesses, especially black businesses supplying these companies, to be globally minded because they supply a global company and they now compete with other global players.

Another such example is the wonderful success of Jendamark, an international design and manufacturing business based in Port Elizabeth, and servicing leading automotive sector companies and top global industrial firms.

We have dynamic manufacturers in our industrial development zones in East London and Port Elizabeth creating jobs, business for locals and making profits for their shareholders.

A number of people who were not employed have now been trained, and are now employed by these national and international businesses.

Some of these are from the TVET colleges and some were trained at the Mercedes-Benz Academy in East London that was jointly funded by the government and Mercedes-Benz.

When companies invest, a number of diverse opportunities from jobs, contracts to provide services, opportunities for transport businesses to transport staff, accommodation and services related to businesses spring up, injecting revenue into our economy and good income into the pockets of the provincial populace.

The budget we allocated to departments is to be used to service the people of this province, and a huge chunk of that money goes to goods and services.

The provincial government continues to ensure that the bulk of that money is spent on businesses in the Eastern Cape.

We are aware that for this money to be fully injected into the provincial economy, we must train our businesses to have capacity, and help them to have resources to supply us with quality goods and services.

Awarding contracts to suppliers is not just to make one company or a few of them rich.

It is to create opportunities for growth, and we are happy when companies create jobs and help those who need opportunities.

While on a visit to China, one person remarked that our approach to procurement, over-reliance on tenders, was swelling and not growing the economy.

This challenges both government and businesses that get contracts from government to review our procurement approach.

Government officials who manage the use of the allocated funds in government institutions have to change their orientation on procurement by implementing policies aimed at spreading economic opportunities to more people and not to give contracts to certain individuals.

Businesses must be alert that growing the economy requires them to charge government fairly, and not inflated prices for goods and services.

As we implement programmes to grow the economy for people’s benefit, we are turbocharging our economy through skills revolution as per the requirements of the manufacturers in our economy.

There are ethical requirements that each of us must meet if we are to succeed in growing the Eastern Cape and contribute to SA’s economic growth.

These include proper planning, correct and fair prices and charging of government for goods and services, creation of jobs and availability of contracts in the context of business to business trading, maximisation of economic opportunities to more players and not a select few, creation of decent jobs with better pay for working people.

The legislative environment allows space for investment, job creation and returns on investments for business owners.

All we have to do is to form a strong growth-driving bond.

I am talking about growth that trains the youth, gives them jobs and business contracts, creates decent jobs for the working people so that they can finance their lives, allows parents to take their children to school, be able to buy a home, access quality healthcare, buy food, and have decent and sustainable livelihoods.

Providing opportunities to those who need them will help to drastically reduce unemployment to effectively eradicate poverty and inequality.

Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane is the Eastern Cape finance, economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC and ANC Provincial chairperson.

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