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Mboweni forges ahead with economic growth paper after over 700 comments

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said Treasury should have anticipated the 'massive response' to the proposals, which include selling off Eskom’s coal-powered plants to raise R450 billion.

FILE: Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said he was happy the document roused public debate on economic strategy. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is pushing ahead with the economic strategy document he unveiled in August, despite its opposition by sections of society including the African National Congress (ANC)'s alliance partners.

Speaking at a South African Reserve Bank colloquium on Thursday morning, Mboweni explained that the finalised version of the paper, titled Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa, would be presented to Parliament as part of his medium-term budget policy statement later in October.

Mboweni said Treasury should have anticipated the “massive response” to the proposals, which include selling off Eskom’s coal-powered plants to raise R450 billion.

He added that he was happy the document roused public debate on economic strategy.

“We then received well over 700 comments on the document, which the staff at Treasury have gone through. My guidance to them was that ideas which are internally consistent with what were trying to do, we should incorporate, but those that are internally inconsistent, we should just appreciate the continuation.”

The document by Treasury aims to boost economic growth by between 2% to 3% and create one million additional jobs through the implementation of various economic and labour reforms.

PROBLEM FACING SA

Mboweni said one of the main problems facing the country was that key players in the economy were not moving in the same direction.

The South African economy has been dampened by low growth with unemployment levels reaching 29%.

The minister made several references to some of the country’s contentious labour laws - such as the extension of collective bargaining agreements to non-parties and the national minimum wage amount - while explaining just how far apart stakeholders in the economy were.

“We won’t get everybody moving in the same direction, immediately you’ll probably get insults from everybody who is benefiting from the extension of collective bargains agreements to non-parties. They don’t want to talk about it and then you get stuck.”

He said the differences stifled the ability for decisive action to be taken.

“Anybody who thinks they were ever promised a rose garden, it was bound to be difficult and I think we should charge on.”

The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, which was scheduled for 30 October, could be moved to a day earlier due to the president’s unavailability.

Click here to read the full paper.

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