SA will overhaul visa system to attract skills, Ramaphosa says
SA businesses complain the visa regime is a stumbling block to growing businesses and attracting investments
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced an overhaul of the work visa system in a bid to attract skills needed to boost investment, which is part of his target of attracting R2-trillion in new investments over the next five years.
Addressing 1,300 delegates attending the fifth SA Investment Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday, Ramaphosa said the government would streamline application requirements to reduce the time frames for obtaining a work visa.
He added the government would work towards decentralising the adjudication of visa applications to foreign missions.
“We will introduce a trusted employer scheme for qualifying companies and establish a points-based system to provide flexible pathways for skilled applicants in line with global best practice. We will introduce new visa categories for remote workers and start-ups to attract dynamic entrepreneurs and promote spending in our economy.”
He said the government was also expanding the e-Visa system to include an additional 20 countries over and above the 14 now eligible and would extend the system to cover new visa categories such as study, business and intra-company transfer visas.
“These reforms will enable us to attract skills and investment and create jobs while protecting and promoting the employment of South Africans. As we reform our visa regime, we are investing in the skills development system to ensure we produce the skills our economy needs,” he said.
SA businesses have previously complained the visa regime had been a stumbling block for growing businesses and attracting investments, including in the tourism industry.
In 2018, Ramaphosa announced a target of raising R1.2-trillion in five years in a drive to create jobs and drive economic growth. Ramaphosa said so far the government had attracted R1.14-trillion in investment pledges.
The investment announcements to be made at this week's conference would take the total beyond the target set five years ago.
“Almost 70% of the total number of projects announced since 2018 are either completed or on their way to completion,” he said.
Ramaphosa acknowledged SA had lost capacity in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, social unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, floods and a cost-of-living crisis worsened by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
“We are now confronted with the consequences of years of underinvestment, mismanagement and corruption in our electricity, rail and logistics sectors. Given all that has taken place in the intervening years, it is understandable that investor confidence has been sorely tested.
“Doubters have had reason to be sceptical. We are on a long journey to rebuild our country and recover the ground we have lost. Our recovery is a mission that will take time to accomplish,” he said.
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