South Africa to get new business-specific plans – with heavy focus on transformation: minister

Trade and Industry minister Ebrahim Patel says that his department is developing a number of sector-specific ‘competitiveness plans’ aimed at local industries in South Africa.

Presenting his department’s inaugural Black Industrialist report, Patel said that these master plans will include substantial commitments towards transformation, to complement efforts to expand local production, and improve economic dynamism.

“To realise our economic potential, South Africa must embark upon a focused and determined effort to transform our industries and make them more dynamic and competitive,” he said.

“In doing so, we are developing our industrialisation efforts around strategic localisation by boosting domestic demand for South African manufactured goods, and expanding our access to export markets.”

Patel cited the automotive industry – which has already seen R6.4 billion committed by automotive manufacturers towards the creation of an Automotive Industry Transformation Fund – which will provide funding and market access opportunities for black component manufacturers in the automotive value chain.

In the agricultural sector, R1 billion has been committed to improve opportunities for black sugar farmers, while in the poultry sector, the industry has committed R1.7 billion to expand opportunities for black farmers, he said.

“Each of these commitments complements the funding which government has provided through the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition and its entities.

“We expect further opportunities to be created through the development and implementation of masterplans in different industries, including steel, furniture, chemicals and plastics, as well as clothing, textile, footwear and leather.”

Sector-specific targets

The proposed Employment Equity Amendment Bill, which is under consideration in parliament, will allow labour minister Thulas Nxesi to set numerical BEE targets for different business sectors.

A number of business groups made submissions on the Amendment Bill to parliament last week, with the groups suggesting that transformation targets be determined sectorally.

Business Unity South Africa’s Kaizer Moyane told the committee that the bill has omitted the requirement for the minister to consult sectors before setting the targets, as agreed at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

“It was agreed that the minister will consult with the relevant sectors when determining what the numerical targets should be. It also concerns Busa that the legislation does not cover what should happen in an event where there are disagreements after consultations,” he said.

Telkom’s Siyabonga Mahlangu highlighted the current tough economic climate and said it was difficult to make appointments that may be necessitated by the new numerical targets.

“The unilateral imposition of targets by the minister, which may not be practically implementable by electronic communications, operators and industry stakeholders, may have the unintended effect of threatening existing jobs in a difficult economic climate.”

Committee chairperson, Lindelwa Dunjwa, allayed fears that the bill seemed to have changed from what was agreed at Nedlac, saying that the bill was not yet final.

“There is still a long way for parties and stakeholders to influence the final product of the bill. The public participation processes that the committee enters into will also be undertaken from the ministry and department’s side,” she said.

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South Africa to get new business-specific plans – with heavy focus on transformation: minister