#SONA2016 / Port Elizabeth – Members of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber have compiled a “wish list” of issues they hope to see addressed in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday.
Chamber President Ian Nicholls raised concerns about the current state of the South African economy and called upon the government to demonstrate clear intent to build an investor-friendly environment through the implementation of sound economic policies focused on growth.
“Setting the tone for the national budget speech later this month, we hope that SONA will comprehend the urgent need to implement structural economic reforms, good governance, effective parastatal management, address issues around the stability of food supply and fix the dysfunctional education system,” said Nicholls.
He added that in order to retain and attract investors, it was critical that a stable and predictable labour environment was in place.
“The current labour legislation does not provide for this requirement. Good governance is required on local, provincial and national level. Currently the civil service is a bloated and ineffective structure which is not able to even deliver the most basic of services. Corruption in the civil service is a massive issue that needs to be urgently addressed,” he said.
He added that the government needed to focus its efforts on increasing the productivity levels of its employees, while at the same time redirecting spend from the “wasteful expansion of civil service structures” to job creation initiatives.
Nicholls said that most, if not all parastatals, had been run on an unsustainable basis which served to burden business and taxpayers.
“Eskom’s mismanagement was a major contributing factor which led towards the economic decline last year. Government can address these issues by selling off portions of parastatal structures to private investors while still retaining a majority interest. These private or public partnerships would be better positioned to fix the inefficiencies currently plaguing these entities,” he said.
Nicholls further called on the government to be more proactive and to provide support to the agricultural sector, as the current drought is having a massive impact on food inflation.