Minister Maynier's remarks at the Premier's Diplomatic Brunch
To his credit, last night President Cyril Ramaphosa provided a frank assessment of what he called our “stark reality” when he conceded that:
“Our economy has not grown at any meaningful rate for over a decade.
Even as jobs are being created, the rate of unemployment is deepening.
The recovery of our economy has stalled as persistent energy shortages have disrupted businesses and people’s lives.
Several state owned enterprises are in distress, and our public finances are under severe pressure.
It is you, the people of South Africa, who carry this burden, confronted by rising living costs, unable to escape poverty, unable to realise your potential.”
He recognised that people are struggling and that things are tough and may get tougher.
But at the same time, he was right to point out what he called “another part of our reality”, pointing out what has been achieved.
We too often forget, in a time when many people have lost hope, and when many people have lost trust, what President Cyril Ramaphosa referred to as our “unbounded potential”, which we think is on display right here in the Western Cape.
We are a beautiful place to visit, we are a top business destination, we are a top tourist destination, we have the fastest growing green economy in Africa, we are the digital hub in Africa, and we are the eighth largest economy in Africa.
We have a lot to be proud of, and have set out some of the highlights in a document, which is available here today, and which is entitled “Cape Town and the Western Cape Economic Overview 2020”.
We have done things differently, and more than any other province, we have worked hard to create an enabling environment for the private sector, and for the markets, to drive economic growth and create jobs, in the Western Cape.
However, there is still much work to do, and so we are focused on actually getting things done in the Western Cape.
Which is why:
- we have launched the most comprehensive and costly safety plan in the history of the Western Cape.
A total of about R1.3 billion has been committed over the next four financial years to ensure the plan is delivered.
Which is why:
- we have launched the Economic War Room, which in its pilot phase has already achieved a number of “quick wins” unblocking some obstacles to economic growth in the Western Cape.
Which is why:
- we have established a task team to tackle congestion issues at the container terminal at the Port of Cape Town, because we know that these challenges are impacting on the costs and efficiencies of the logistics and export industries.
We recognise that both the private sector and government are required to find deliverable solutions, and for that reason the task team consists of senior representatives from the entire port logistics chain.
It’s early days, but all stakeholders are engaging constructively with each other to synchronise working hours, to improve communication, and to improve the way they share data.
We, of course, welcome the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, last night that the Durban Port will undergo a “fundamental overhaul”.
However, I am now going to make it my business to ensure that the “fundamental overhaul”, contemplated in the Durban Port, is extended to the Port of Cape Town.
Which is why:
- we have, through Air Access, launched new routes, expanded existing routes, and grown seat capacity numbers at Cape Town International Airport. We were excited about the launch of the United Airlines route between New York and Cape Town last year and we are excited about the launch of the Virgin Airlines route between London and Cape Town that was announced on Wednesday.
Which is why:
- we have done everything we can to build energy resilience in the Western Cape.
The highlight of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address must, of course, be his announcement of new measures to “rapidly and significantly increase generation capacity outside Eskom”, including most importantly, that measure will be put in place:
“…to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers.”
Yes, he did not go far enough, and, yes, there were no timelines for implementation, but the announcement, is, nevertheless, a potential “game changer”, and since Premier Alan Winde has been on the frontline, leading the fight on energy security for many years, I will leave it to him to deal more comprehensively with our response to the announcement on energy by the Western Cape.
And for those of you who have not heard, Tim Harris, and his team of investment professionals at Wesgro, who you all know well, have launched our investment promotion campaign, showcasing key sectors with the potential for growth and opportunity, and showcasing the fact that we are, “Open, for Business”.
The campaign is largely digital, focused on lead generation and aimed at seven key international markets. But most importantly this campaign is the only provincial campaign of its kind that is a joined-up approach by all key partners in government and business, to present a common message to the world: that both Cape Town and the Western Cape are: “Open, for Business”.
In closing, I remain committed to working together with our international partners and with businesses to ensure that the Western Cape remains: “Open, for Business”.
We are going to listen to business, learn from business, and back business by being responsive to business, by being open for the business, so that we can, together, continue to grow the economy and create jobs, and give hope to people, who do not have jobs, or who have given up looking for jobs, in the Western Cape.
I thank you.
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance and Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for Provincial Treasury and Departments of Economic Development and Tourism)
Tel: 021 483 4327
Cell: 071 087 5150