Cabinet Meets Business 2021: “Backing Business”
I’d like to welcome you all to “Cabinet Meets Business”, which is an opportunity to share some of the work we’ve been doing to “back business” with you, but also to hear from you, and learn from you, about how we can better “back business” in the Western Cape.
We have worked hard, over the past few months, together with the private sector, to find a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods, so that we can safely, and responsibly, open our economy in the Western Cape.
Looking back, we have:
- Worked with the private sector to identify sectors where businesses can open safely and responsibly, and drafted submissions and engaged with national government to allow these sectors to open;
- Provided support to businesses looking for guidance on the regulations or assistance in finding funding so they can keep businesses open;
- Created guidelines and resources for employers and employees to understand and implement the health protocols to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace; and
- Helped businesses to adapt and innovate by providing training and information in new technologies and digital skills so that businesses can keep operating and their employees can work from home; and
- Run multiple award-winning tourism marketing campaigns to keep Cape Town and the Western Cape front-of-mind for both domestic and international travelers, because tourism is a key job creator in our economy in the Western Cape
2. Backing Business
Looking forward, we will continue to back business as we rebuild our economy in the Western Cape.
We are moving forward with our recovery plan which will focus on:
- Accelerating the ease of doing business;
- Boosting investments and exports;
- Increasing infrastructure investment;
- Scaling up work opportunities and skills for people without jobs; and
- Building economic resilience in the Western Cape.
We will be scaling up our Ease of Doing Business Unit, to focus on systematic issues that hold back economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.
A major focus of our Ease of Doing Business Unit is the Port of Cape Town, which is facing significant challenges as a result of ageing infrastructure and equipment, staffing shortages, the Covid-19 pandemic and poor weather.
We established a Port Task Team, which is co-ordinated by our Ease of Doing Business Unit and has brought together key representatives from all levels of the port logistics supply chain to solve some of the critical issues at the port.
However, many of these challenges require serious infrastructure investment and systemic change, and so we were pleased to join President Cyril Ramaphosa on his visit to the Port of Cape Town, and to hear his announcement that Transnet National Ports Authority will be corporatised and established as an independent subsidiary of Transnet SOC Ltd.
Which will create opportunities for revenues to be invested back into port infrastructure and opportunities for the private sector to investment in port operations and infrastructure which will grow the economy and create jobs in the Western Cape.
We also recently welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act will be amended to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW.
We remain in an energy crisis and large-scale private sector participation in energy generation, in partnership with government, will be key to addressing the current shortfall and building our energy resilience in the Western Cape.
To support the private sector to take advantage of the new energy regulations we plan to hold a series of engagements with businesses to unpack the amendments to the regulations and the opportunities that have arisen.
To support municipalities to take advantage of the new energy regulations to generate, procure and sell their own power so that we can become more energy secure we have launched our Municipal Energy Resilience Project.
This project is moving swiftly forward with our recently published Request for Information and is just one of the many ways we are working hard to build energy resilience and buffer businesses and households from the impact of load shedding in the Western Cape.
3. Third Wave
However, in the end the fact is that economic recovery depends on vaccinating as many people, as fast as possible, because with more jabs, there will be more jobs in the Western Cape.
Which is why we are also continuing to focus with urgency on the vaccine rollout which will in time reduce the severity of the Covid-19 waves on lives and livelihoods in the Western Cape.
To increase the uptake and rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the Western Cape, we have engaged extensively with the private sector.
We have hosted a number of engagements with business leaders from multiple sectors to identify opportunities and tackle challenges being experienced by those businesses wanting to establish workplace vaccination sites.
We are pleased to say that there is extensive support and buy-in from the private sector to support government to encourage registration and rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations in the Western Cape.
This support includes:
- partnering with us to distribute national and provincial vaccine campaign messaging in workplaces;
- partnering with the national Department of Health and Business 4 South Africa to set up vaccination sites at business premises;
- partnering with us to spread awareness and to help people, especially the elderly, to register on the EVDS system.
We have been hit by the third wave at the very moment that the economy was recovering in the Western Cape.
We know that Adjusted Alert Level 4 restrictions will have a devastating effect, especially on the hospitality, and liquor industry, in the Western Cape.
Which is why I have written to the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, to request that he reopen the UIF Covid-19 TERS scheme for the duration of the Alert Level 4 restrictions to assist businesses and employees who are not able to operate.
The UIF TERS funds could provide the lifeline that businesses and employees need to sustain their operations while these restrictions on the economy are in place.
We are a resilient region, proven through our internationally recognised management of the drought, and management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have built strong partnerships that have been forged between the private sector and government to tackle the challenges we face.
And we remain committed to working with business and backing business to that together we can rebuild the economy and create jobs in the Western Cape.
I thank you.
Spokesperson for the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism)
Cell: 071 087 5150