SA has all the ingredients to recover from the economic damage caused by Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday, adding that recovery has to start now.
Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa acknowledged the severity of the economic damage caused by the pandemic, saying the most recent indicators showed a drastic decline in economic activity and in investor confidence.
“Despite the support measures we have put in place, businesses are being forced to close and jobs are being lost,” he said. “The path to recovery will be long and difficult so it needs to start now.”
Ramaphosa said it was untenable and unacceptable to live with an unemployment rate of 30%, which will soon increase.
“It is also impossible to build an economy built on inequality,” he said.
The president said many of the plans under discussion raise fundamentals such as reliable energy, access to broadband spectrum, competitive ports and efficient transport.
“Working with our social partners we must speed up the pace of implementation so we can rebuild the base of our economy.”
He said in all the proposals put forward in recent weeks, there is a substantial emphasis on improving execution.
“They all say we should seek out pockets of excellence in the state and support and deepen them. But they also say we must look outside the state. We need to bring together the best available local skills, whether in business, academia or civil society, to support our common programme,” said Ramaphosa.
With the arrival of the coronavirus, Ramaphosa said there is now a need to pursue new sources of growth within a fundamentally different context.
“Many of the areas we had identified before remain relevant and urgent, such as a growing the small and medium enterprise sector and an agricultural sector that delivers food security.”
Some sectors, however, have taken on new significance.
“We should, for example, use this opportunity to build a greener economy with our entrepreneurs entering new fields such as hybrid cars, fuel cells, battery storage and waste beneficiation. This element has come out quite clearly in the various plans that have been released,” he said.
Ramaphosa said an economic recovery programme will be finalised in the coming weeks.
The most important parts of that programme must be protection and creation of jobs, he said.