Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER
Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER

The government has “grossly underachieved” in implementing a 2012 blueprint to halve unemployment and boost economic growth, a senior government adviser for strategy planning says.

Speaking to Business Day TV’s Political Currency show on Wednesday, Mohammed Karaan, a member of the 24-member National Planning Commission housed in the presidency, said while the National Development Plan (NDP) remained relevant, the problem was with its implementation.  

“There is no doubt that the country needs a plan to be able to beat those challenges. The problem does not lie in the plan itself, the problem lies with the implementation of the plan,” said Karaan.

“Other countries have done the same [thing] and have been much more successful. The success comes at finding the right instrument for implementing the NDP. We haven’t found that yet.”

His comments about the NDP, launched under former president Jacob Zuma to halve unemployment and lift economic growth to pre-2008 levels of about 5% by 2030, turns a sceptical spotlight on the latest government plan to revive an economy ravaged by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.    

Ramaphosa announced the relaunch of the plan — which hinges on an expanded public employment programme, a R1-trillion infrastructure effort mostly leveraged from the private sector, a pledge to accelerate energy generation, and a raft of structural economic reforms — in October.

Karaan said countries that have been successful in their developmental plans did so by creating special purpose vehicles to implement them. “Once you implement with success a few priorities, that builds momentum for greater success on the broader front.”

In SA, there was a “serious lack of capacity within the public sector” in executing the NDP. Karaan noted, however, that Ramaphosa was committed to the plan. “He is familiar with it, he has confirmed that the NDP remains the lodestar of SA, so the commitment is there.”

Karaan said that given there were 10 years remaining until 2030, it was evident that “there is almost too little time” to achieve the set targets. The challenges facing SA were “daunting”.

Other objectives the NDP fell short on include eradicating poverty and narrowing the income gap between rich and poor, he said.  

The NDP aims to create 24-million job opportunities and achieve a per capita income of R120,000 by 2030. It also identifies sectors such as agriculture as having the potential to create
1-million jobs by 2030.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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