Letter: B4SA should explain what it means by ‘clarity’ on property rights - Businesslive

18 August 2020 - Business for SA’s (B4SA) proposal for post-pandemic recovery has provoked much discussion, in part because an economic strategy centred on the private sector is infinitely more credible than one built around our compromised state.

Business for SA’s (B4SA) proposal for post-pandemic recovery has provoked much discussion, in part because an economic strategy centred on the private sector is infinitely more credible than one built around our compromised state.

But there are major blind spots that require attention. “Policy certainty is critical to attract new investment and SA has to compete with other emerging markets,” it reads. This is a prominent theme.

In respect of property rights and land reform, it requests “clarity” and “resolution”. Investment would be promoted “if property rights can be absolutely clear and backed by legislation and institutions”. “Clear rights for rural tenants” should promote inclusion.

But what precisely does this mean? “Certainty”, “clarity” and “resolution” can take many forms, including confirming a bad or destructive decision. While certainty on policy positions can help a business in planning its operations in an economy, it may also warn it off.

Shortly before the pandemic the ANC indicated that it wished to amend the constitution to place decisions on compensation in the hands of the executive as opposed to the courts. “Certainty” about this would hardly be encouraging for business or investment.

Nor would a mass custodial taking of all land in the country, which some in the governing party favour. Business would presumably want good policy, and not just “certainty”.

So, is the objective merely to ask the government to enact its will or does business have a firm, clear stance on what the point of “certainty” and “resolution” should look like? If it is the latter, business needs to make this clear, and be willing to defend its position.

Terence Corrigan 
Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2020-08-18-letter-b4sa-should-explain-what-it-means-by-clarity-on-property-rights/

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