Carol Paton Writer at Large
Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Tito Mboweni. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

On Tuesday, finance minister Tito Mboweni fired a shot across the bows of the government, publishing an economic strategy for the country on the Treasury website.

The strategy, which has been distributed to all cabinet ministers but is not a cabinet document, makes far-reaching recommendations on a variety of policy areas that fall under the responsibility of his cabinet colleagues, but have an important bearing on the performance of the economy.

Mboweni published the document along with a call that members of the public make comments, which should be directed to the Treasury.

The Treasury said that the paper is a detailed examination of the structural reforms that can reverse the downward trend in SA’s growth potential and competitiveness.

“Weak growth over the past six years is a function of both cyclical and structural factors, although structural factors have dominated, including sharply declining competitiveness … A series of cyclical shocks, such as political turmoil, drought and, most recently, load-shedding by Eskom have further exacerbated the depth of the slowdown. Together, these have served to compound and prolong the effect of weaker confidence, leaving us with an economy that has almost 30% unemployment.”

The paper draws on the National Development Plan and makes proposals on:

  •  Modernising of network industries to promote competitiveness and inclusive growth.
  • Lowering barriers to entry and addressing distorted patterns of ownership through increased competition and small business growth.
  • Prioritising labour-intensive growth.
  • Implementing focused and flexible industrial and trade policy to promote competitiveness and facilitate long-run growth.
  • Creating export competitiveness and harnessing regional growth opportunities.
  • Quantifying the impact of proposed growth reforms.

patonc@businesslive.co.za