Pityana: No painless, quick-fix solution to our employment crisis

Business Unity South Africa president Sipho Pityana is addressing the Jobs Summit in Midrand.

FILE: Sipho Pityana. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Business Unity South Africa president Sipho Pityana says delegates at the Jobs Summit being held in Midrand are under no illusion that the event will stem the tide of job erosion.

"But we are gathering here today to generate innovative ideas of stimulating employment creation across our economy. We are here to decide on pragmatic ways to protect jobs wherever possible, and to identify and nurture the potential for new jobs that will help turn back the tide.

"We are not only hopeful, as we embark on this job-creating expedition, but also clear that our path will be full of challenges that will require tough and painful choices to resolve. But these hardships cannot deter us from taking on this important task."

He says it will be necessary to fully leverage multilateral forums, such as Nedlac, in order to find ways to confront – and resolve - the structural problems that underpin the economic crisis.

"We’ve been hard at work crafting a policy framework that is conducive to investment while also honouring our constitutional mandate to transform society and achieve socio-economic justice. Your (referring to President Cyril Ramaphosa) recently announced stimulus package alludes not only to this important balance, but also the need to prioritise state spending to jump-start the economy

"We welcome the intent of the stimulus package. Few can argue with its emphasis on better planning and improved use of existing resources to boost growth and employment. The advancement of outstanding reforms also remain crucial if we are to reinvigorate economic growth and make our economy more inclusive.

"We are painfully aware that our rising public debt requires urgent attention if we are to stabilise the economy. Equally urgent is the imperative for fiscal consolidation, reigning in leakage from corruption, and choking off wasteful and irregular expenditure to halt the never-ending call for bailout from our SOEs.

"We applaud the clean-up we’ve seen in some state companies, and we continue to urge employment of competent, experienced and scrupulous leaders as custodians of the state’s capital and the ambitions of its people. We are encouraged by your administration’s appreciation of the pressing need to find solutions to the plethora of challenges you’ve inherited. Business remains ready and willing to assist."

Pityana adds that if the Jobs Summit is viewed in isolation from all these other initiatives, its purpose will be mislocated.

"It is only one of a range of mutually reinforcing arsenals we are employing to navigate our way out of this challenging environment.

"So, as we wrestle with the complexity of assembling the right basic ingredients for successful growth: budget allocation, taxes, monetary policy, trade and industrial policies, to name just a few - we must agree that there is no painless, quick-fix solution to our employment predicament."