Although President Cyril Ramaphosa's Reconstruction and Recovery Plan addressed all the talking points in steering the country back to desirable growth levels in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, it fell short on tangible frameworks and deadlines.
The plan is based on four pillars
The rollout of an infrastructure development plan
R100bn from the Infrastructure Fund over the next three years would leverage investment of R1trn. The focus will be on schools, health and bulk water supply as well as ports, roads and rail.
Steps to ensure a reliable energy supply within two years
The implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan, the country’s energy roadmap, would be accelerated to ensure a stable electricity supply within two years.
A jobs stimulus programme
In which government has committed R100bn to support and create over 800,000 employment opportunities over the next three years. The programme is focused on those interventions that can be rolled out most quickly and have the greatest impact on economic recovery
The industrialisation of the economy
Driven by a massive buy-local campaign, where mall, medium and large businesses will be supported in a drive to boost local production and to make the South African economy more competitive.
"While there are positive features to the latest economic reconstruction and Recovery Plan, it needed to say much more about implementation processes and timelines," says North West University Business School's economist, Professor Raymond Parsons.
"There were some positive features to the key four-point plan outlined by the president to address SA’s huge post-Covid-19 socioeconomic challenges. There was recognition by Ramaphosa about the urgency required in addressing the economic crisis, the imperative need to promote job-rich growth, to steadily narrow down the priorities to make them more manageable, and to build business confidence in the period ahead.
But is not a bold reform plan and there was insufficient emphasis on implementation and deliverables.
Parsons says that given the previous failures in delivery and the extraordinary economic times in which SA finds itself, Ramaphosa should have had much more to say about how policies and projects are to be handled differently and to guarantee accountability, with the biggest risk still being the tremendous problems with state capacity. The plan’s ultimate impact on SA’s economic performance also depends on how the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement on October 28 will finance SA’s ability to break out of its ‘low growth trap’ without falling into a ‘debt trap’.
Meanwhile, Stanford Mazhindu, spokesperson of the trade union UASA, says government's track record makes it difficult to accept that the plan will be able to turn the economy around.
"Job creation was the centre of the presentation with the plan promising to create 800,000 job opportunities through major infrastructure development projects. We have heard these promises before the coronavirus pandemic, summits were held to boost the economy and create jobs, and yet they did not yield the expected results.
"Corruption and cadre deployment stands in the way of government’s implementation. Unless there is a firm commitment from the government to root out corruption and revamp the tender issuing process, the infrastructure development plan might not succeed," he says.