Business for South Africa (B4SA) has welcomed the President’s announcement to move the country to Level 2 of the national lockdown and allow South African business and entrepreneurs to resume trading in virtually all sectors of the economy.
B4SA SteerCo Chair, Martin Kingston, commented, “The past 140 days of lockdown have been challenging and extremely onerous on many businesses and their employees. The many ramifications of the lockdown have been severe. But while Government needed to take decisive action to curb the spread of this virus and to reduce the harsh impacts on our society, we must take equally decisive action to rebuild our shattered economy and set it on an accelerated and inclusive growth path.
“This pandemic has had a devastating impact on South Africa and our economy, harming livelihoods and taking the lives of loved ones. The imperative of flattening the curve has proven to be largely successful, given the statistics that are now emerging. We collectively commit to the resumption of greater levels of economic activity. We also call for the urgent resolution of outstanding economic policy issues that stand between us and greater prosperity for all South Africans, while also calling for decisive action to combat crime and corruption”.
According to Kingston, “Now is the time for swift action to restart a more integrated and inclusive economy that can deliver growth and benefits for all”. B4SA has made detailed proposals for a new economic recovery strategy that leverages the new social and economic compact forged between government, business, labour, and civil society during the pandemic, hasten the process for structural adjustment and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. “This crucial process”, added Kingston, “was overseen by the President at the Nedlac Forum on Thursday, 13 August 2020, which we fully endorse. It amplifies the intention of building immediately on areas of policy alignment and competitive advantage, whilst ensuring that together we can implement an action plan focused on a sustainable, inclusive and affordable economic growth path”.
The Nedlac Forum has shown convergence and commonality by all parties in terms of the extreme urgency for a reconstruction of the South African economy. These include job creation, prioritising SMME participation, infrastructure projects, and energy security whilst ensuring the development of a green economy and implementing a just transition. At the same time it has committed to advancing local manufacturing and production for the South African and regional market as well as a focusing on the importance of local procurement.
B4SA believes that a significant opportunity exists to reset the course for South Africa, but this requires decisive leadership and urgent delivery from all social partners working together.
Kingston concluded, “The decision to move to Level 2 of the lockdown will enable a quicker recovery process whilst ensuring our collective objective of delivering a new inclusive economic future for South Africa. B4SA is fully committed to harnessing opportunities within the various economic sectors and we look forward to building rapidly upon the foundations created for recovery. We will work tirelessly with our social partners to develop a better, more just and equitable South Africa, where all can achieve their potential. We urge everyone to remain vigilant in observing the health protocols of social distancing, wearing masks and sanitization at all times to limit the transmission of the virus”.