Letter: Economy depends on action - The Herald

29 July 2020 - Even the pessimists among us would have been stunned by the findings of the recent National Income Dynamics Study - Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey.

Even the pessimists among us would have been stunned by the findings of the recent National Income Dynamics Study - Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey.

Putting some numbers to the impact of the lockdown, it estimated that between February and April this year, anything from 2.5 million to 2.6 million people (probably around 3 million) had lost their jobs. Another 1.5 million were employed, but without income. A third of those who had earned an income in February were not doing so in April.

This is a catastrophe, and while it may be true that the lockdown was a reasonable response to the public health crisis, this has to be turned around.

Doing so will only be possible with significantly accelerated economic growth – and this will in turn depend on expanded investment and job creation by private enterprise, large and small.

If this is to be case, the country will need to tap every source of entrepreneurship available. It will also need to deliver on ‘reforms’ – promised for years – necessary to improve the business environment, especially as it relates to small enterprises.

Current empowerment policy (Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment or B-BBEE), must be dropped in favour of a model that encourages businesses to do business, and to help aspiring businesspeople get started.

Unfortunately, the economic strategies that have been proposed avoid this. That proposed by the ANC offers little change. Business speaks ambiguously about changing empowerment policy, but seems not to make this a point of any principle.

South Africa no longer has the luxury of endless discussion, deferment, and deference to ideological fetishes. Policies that have failed the country need to be abandoned if an economic recovery is to be realised.

Terence Corrigan

Project Manager, Institute of Race Relations

© 2018 South African Institute of Race Relations
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