Comunidados de Imprensa

Comunidados de Imprensa

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 26 FEBRUARY 2024

 

A budget to grow the economy and support our developmental goals

Dear Fellow South African,

Last week, the Minister of Finance presented a national budget that will help us to achieve more rapid and inclusive economic growth while supporting our developmental goals.

Over the last five years, we have taken several actions to get our economy back on track. We have implemented far-reaching reforms in the energy, logistics, water and telecommunications sectors to address the binding constraints on growth. We have created a stable macroeconomic environment to encourage investment. And we have expanded public employment and social protection to create jobs and provide an income for those who are unemployed.

This budget takes us further along the path of reviving our economy and rebuilding our institutions, in at least three important ways.

First, the 2024 budget shows that we staying the course in our commitment to achieve a sustainable fiscal trajectory.

Over the past fifteen years, our debt burden has grown to a point where we are spending more on interest payments than we are on education or health care services. By reducing debt, we will create more space to spend on the things that matter – building our infrastructure, improving our schools and hospitals, and making our communities safer.

At the same time, the less the state borrows the more can be invested in the economy. This will help to create a virtuous cycle of investment and growth in the years to come.

Second, the budget protects critical services and social spending, making sure that government can deliver on its most important obligations to all South Africans.

We have allocated additional funds for service delivery, which will help to pay the salaries of police officers, teachers, nurses and doctors. This year alone, we will spend more than R480 billion on education, R272 billion on health and R265 billion on other services like water, housing and public transport.

A further R7.4 billion will go towards the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has already created more than 1.7 million opportunities for work and livelihoods over the last three years, ensuring that key programmes like school assistants will continue.

We are also increasing social grants to help the poorest households cope with the rising cost of living. Additional money has been allocated to the fight against corruption and state capture, following through on the commitment I made in the State of the Nation Address.

Third, the budget includes new measures to support growth and create jobs, while rebuilding infrastructure.

A new R2 billion grant has been established to fund the rollout of smart meters in municipalities, which will help to modernise our electricity system and reduce load shedding. A generous incentive will be introduced to support the manufacturing of electric vehicles from 2026 onwards, as part of our commitment to position South Africa as a leading player in the green economy.

Innovative new funding instruments have been introduced for infrastructure projects, and the National Treasury has published revised regulations to make it easier to implement public-private partnerships. These measures will enable much greater investment in infrastructure.

Our economy has been weighed down by more than a decade of low growth and rising debt, made worse during the state capture era as confidence was eroded. During the course of this administration, we have worked hard to change this and build a foundation for higher growth and more jobs.

The 2024 budget shows that we are heading in the right direction. We are determined to continue on this path, following through on economic reforms, getting our public finances in shape and protecting basic services for the poor. Working together we will ensure that better years lie ahead.

With best regards,

Signature

 

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 19 FEBRUARY 2024

Dear Fellow South African,

I have just returned from the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the worsening effects of climate change on the continent were raised prominently.

African leaders have been advocating for urgent, practical and stepped up climate action given the continent’s extreme vulnerability to the effects of global warming.

We have seen a rapid increase in climate-related disasters worldwide as extreme weather events become more frequent. In our own country, we have had wildfires in the Western Cape, heatwaves in the Northern Cape, continuing drought conditions in the Eastern Cape and intense storms in Gauteng.

Even before we could properly recover and rebuild after the 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West, we were hit again this year with more flooding, further loss of life and damage to livelihoods, property and the local economy.

The insurance industry is warning about the increasing costs of disaster risk finance, and even talking about the prospect of highly vulnerable regions eventually becoming uninsurable.

As noted during the AU Summit, African climate action is constrained by inadequate and unpredictable climate finance. It has long been the continental position that those most responsible for climate change and its impacts, namely developed countries, bear a responsibility to assist developing countries to build climate resilience.

We therefore welcomed the historic agreement  at the UN Climate Conference in the United Arab Emirates in December last year to operationalise a Loss and Damage Fund to provide financial support for developing countries that are vulnerable to the impact of climate change. South Africa and the African Group were key to securing this agreement.

At the same time, African countries are forging ahead with plans to mobilise resources in support of climate action across the continent, and the AU Commission has recently established a Climate Finance Unit to ensure this is done in a coordinated manner.

For our part, South Africa has established a Climate Change Response Fund that will bring together all spheres of government and the private sector. By coordinating financial mobilisation from both government and the private sector our country will have collaborative effort to build resilience and respond to climate change.

This includes climate-proofing existing essential infrastructure and facilities such as water and food systems, roads, rail and ports, human settlements and health care.

The fund will also collaborate with a variety of partners to respond to immediate needs in communities following climate change related disasters.

The fund forms an important part of South Africa’s comprehensive response to climate change which includes both adaptation and measures to mitigate green house gas emissions. As I said in the State of the Nation Address, we will undertake our just transition to reach our ambitious emission reduction targets at a pace, scale and cost that our country can afford. At the same, our just transition will be undertaken in a manner that ensures energy security and that supports our developmental objectives.

As a country we cannot be complacent about climate change because its impacts are already with us. We will continue to contribute our fair share to the global climate change effort.

Our country will remain vocal in calling for developed countries to meet their obligations for financing and technology transfer support. We will continue to campaign for transformation of the international financial architecture and reform of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions so that developing countries can access the resources needed for climate action and the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

We will also continue to campaign against the implementation of climate and environment based unilateral actions, policies and taxes and their potential impacts on African exports and trade.

Climate change is a global problem and as such requires collective global action that is sustainable, that takes the differing circumstances and capabilities of countries into account, and that above all, leaves no-one behind.

With best regards,

Signature

 

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 12 FEBRUARY 2024

Dear Fellow South African, 

To succeed in an ever-changing global economy, our country needs far more people with the right skills. This is so that our economy can be competitive, grow and create employment.

As a country, we have invested much in producing these skills, from significantly expanding access to higher education, introducing digital programmes in TVET colleges and a shift to a new pay-for-performance approach to skills development.

However, it will take some time before we will be able to produce enough skilled people to enable our country to grow rapidly.

 A review report published last year found that South Africa’s available labour supply “does not match demand from companies which are essentially looking to employ management-level personnel, professionals, engineers, technicians, science and maths educators, as well as IT experts”. This means that, at least in the short-term, many of the these high-level skills must be sourced internationally.

Last week, the Department of Home Affairs published for public comment draft amendments to existing immigration regulations that will significantly boost our efforts to attract workers with critical skills to South Africa. The draft amendments deal with two visa categories: a remote working visa and the critical skills visa.

The introduction of a remote working visa responds to the rapidly evolving world of work, where increasing numbers of skilled workers, notably in the tech industry, are attracted by the lifestyle benefits of working from a remote location. It also caters to so-called digital nomads, who are able to work virtually from any location in the world. A remote worker who wants to work in South Africa while being employed by a foreign company will be able to receive such a visa.

The draft regulations propose the introduction of a points system for critical skills visas that will take into account factors such as age, qualifications, language skills, work experience and having an offer of employment, amongst others.

The publication of the new draft regulations are part of our ongoing drive to reform the country’s visa system, making it easier to attract the skills our economy needs and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. An efficient, agile, responsive visa regime is key to attracting business investment and boosting economic growth. 

International experience shows that employees with critical skills contribute to improved productivity, enhanced innovation, and improving the competitiveness of the firms they work for.

In October last year, the Department of Home Affairs released guidelines for corporate employers under a ‘Trusted Employer Scheme’, which will make the visa process easier for large investors and streamline application requirements.

Under this scheme, a company looking to employ skilled foreign workers would be vetted and approved in advance to reduce the administrative burden for visa applications.

With South Africa fast becoming an increasingly attractive destination for industries like business process outsourcing and customer experience, attracting more skilled workers will be important. Last year, for example, a leading international strategic advisory firm ranked South Africa second as the most favoured offshore customer experience delivery destination globally. Since 2016, government has invested more than R3 billion towards supporting the growth and expansion of business process outsourcing, and is targeting the creation of approximately 500,000 jobs in the sector by 2030. 

In line with our ongoing efforts to attract higher levels of investment and promote job creation, the new work visa regulations are a milestone. They are part of high-impact structural reforms we are undertaking to improve the business operating environment. 

They send a clear signal to business that we are committed to attracting skills that meet the demands of a modern, inclusive and growing economy.

With best regards,

Signature