Last week Friday, President Jacob Zuma met with the Presidential CEO Initiative for a report back on work that has been done by business, government with the support of labor, to build confidence in the economy and reignite growth since May.
Formed in February this year, the Presidential CEO Initiative is led by the Finance Minister, Cde Pravin Gordhan and Chairman of Telkom and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) President Jabu Mabuza. Its aim is to lead the initiative and also to help the country avert a downgrade in the country’s sovereign credit rating.
The meeting was attended by CEOs of major companies, representatives of BUSA and COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU.
The Presidential CEO Initiative works through four work streams, namely:
- Small Enterprise Development
- Youth Employment and
- Addressing issues related to the country’s sovereign credit rating.
Among other issues discussed, on youth employment, a programme aimed to place one million youth in paid internships in the private sector, over a three year period with the cost to be borne by the private sector and supported by a negotiated package of government incentives, it was announced that consultative processes will begin soon.
A South Africa SME Fund that will make equity investments in small enterprises with growth potential has been established.
“The Fund has been established, a Board of Directors appointed and thus far the private sector has contributed almost R1, 5 billion rand,” said President Zuma.
The Presidential CEO Initiative stated that it will address the proposal raised BUSA for black fund managers to be involved in the management of SME Fund.
Also, in line with the Government’s Nine Point Plan, work has been done to analyze 8 Economic sectors and identify areas for new investment and growth.
Furthermore, other areas such as Agriculture, Tourism, Health and Industrial revitalization have been prioritized for further work and project development.
With regard to a potential ratings downgrade, the private sector together with labor and government said it has met with investors and the ratings agencies in a Team SA initiative that has built confidence and ensured a positive outcome to the June ratings review.
This partnership sees its work as initiating activities that are intended to foster inclusive growth through joint activities by all social partners.
“We are encouraged by the work done thus far. It is encouraging that we are working together in this manner, as business, government and labor, President Zuma added.
He urged all sectors of society to also support the initiative and ensure that together, we focus on initiatives that will boost confidence in our country and the economy and which will boost economic growth and job creation.
“We appeal to all in our country to refrain from making public utterances that promote a negative narrative about the country which undermine our collective drive to reignite economic growth and jeopardize job creation.”
It is the responsibility of all South Africans to work together with government, labor and the business sector to reignite the economy of the country and promote brand South Africa in all their interactions.