Firstly, having nearly six million people out of work creates a massive social problem with consequences that are difficult to predict and, secondly, it underlines the poor performance of the economy.
This double-trouble will be very difficult to overcome. Business confidence is low and the government has been very slow in implementing the structural reforms the National Development Plan recommends for economic growth.
These changes included the labour market and industrial relations reforms. Our priority should be to remove all obstacles to job creation. The approach to business should be ‘What can we do to encourage you to employ more people?’, instead the approach was to over-regulate and prescribe to business on how it should go about running companies.
The long-term problem was education which, despite massive investment, was not producing the required results.
In addition there were policies and legislation which discouraged foreign investment such as the new expropriation bill and the requirement that security companies from overseas should dispose of 51% of their shares to local investors.
We must also ask ourselves how many jobs ‘mistakes’, like the unnecessary visa regulations, had cost the tourism industry and the country.
What we need is less interference in the economy. This will improve business confidence and we will see more investment and skills training leading to economic growth.
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry