Outside of institutions like the South African Reserve Bank and Statistics South Africa, there are very few government programmes that can be considered successful, says Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt.
Speaking at a Free Market Foundation event on Wednesday (27 February), Roodt said that the current malaise surrounding the state and the deteriorating economy could only be turned around if government begins to focus on ‘easy wins’.
“This is where we need to start – get government to do some simple, stupid things (right). It can be something small but just do something well.
Roodt said that a good place to start would be addressing South Africa’s issues around road safety.
A 2018 study conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) estimated that the cost of crashes to South Africa last year was R166.2 billion.
It is estimated that one death on the road represents an average loss of R4.6 million to the economy in terms of lost productivity, pain and suffering, medical costs, legal and funeral costs.
“This is something everyone would support and it would be something (government) could do well,” Roodt said. “Just do something that can help get the economy back on track because at the moment it is a disaster.”
Roodt noted that the other ways that government could help get South Africa back on track include:
- Having a clear plan on Eskom;
- Reducing the public wage bill;
- Scrapping the current cadre system;
- Scrapping BEE;
- Protecting South Africa’s property rights.
Commenting on these issues, Roodt said it was not clear how Eskom and other state-owned enterprises will be funded.
He added that while he was supportive of the plan to cut R160 billion from the public wage bill, the government was likely to face strong resistance from the country’s labour unions.
“I really hope that the President (Cyril Ramaphosa) supports Mboweni’s plans to cut the wage bill. There are just too many civil servants.
“I must also say that I don’t think we will avoid a credit downgrade from ratings agency Moody’s this time around. I think they have given us enough time.”