Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SOWETAN
Jackson Mthembu. Picture: SOWETAN

An extended cabinet, including deputy ministers, met for a special meeting on Thursday to discuss finance minister Tito Mboweni’s paper on how to stimulate economic growth.

The Treasury released the economic policy paper at the end of August for public comment, mostly prompting support from business and opposition from labour, including from the ANC's alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said at a media briefing on Thursday that over 700 submissions were made by individuals, groupings and academics with the aim of enhancing the document, which will form the basis of an economic strategy to ignite growth.

He noted that special cabinet meetings took place to discuss a single matter in a dedicated fashion. The briefing was held to update the media about decisions taken at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Mthembu said good progress was being made in the discussions on the economic policy paper and it would be up to cabinet as to how to take the matter forward.

“We believe we have made strides,” he said.

Mthembu recognised the importance of the implementation of policies by the government, the failure of which has been a point of criticism. President Cyril Ramaphosa, he added, had emphasised the importance of implementation.

He said the integrated resource plan, which will determine SA's energy sources in the decades to come was still before cabinet but discussions had not been concluded yet. He expected that to be finalised soon.

The consolidation of SA's three airlines — SAA, Mango and SA Express — was also still before cabinet and was discussed last week by a cabinet committee. The paper on the future of Eskom had not come before the cabinet yet.

The cabinet approved the release of a 25-year review report which assesses progress made by government in delivering a better life for all.

The assessment was led by the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation and entailed consultations with various stakeholders including business, labour, academics, nongovernmental organisations and various government departments. Colloquiums were also held with eminent people from Africa.

“The report highlights areas of progress such as universal access to basic education; expansion of higher education; access to free health services in the public sector and the implementation of the social wage,” Mthembu said.

“It also highlights several challenges which impede our adequate response to unemployment, poverty alleviation and inequality. Key to these challenges is our inability to address the structural dimension of the country’s economy.”

Ramaphosa will officially launch the report in due course.

The cabinet also approved the SA 2019 sustainable development goals (SDG) country report to the UN. The report deals with the country’s progress in implementing 17 goals and 169 targets tracking a broad range of issues from education, poverty to environmental issues, economic growth and gender disparities in the world.

The cabinet also discussed the recent attacks against women and on foreign nationals.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za