Letter: Reserving jobs is not the answer - Businesslive

14 February 2022 - With steadily declining economic freedom — SA fell in the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index from 58th to 84th between 2000 and last year — and the concomitant lack of economic opportunities and growth, it is little surprise that the government is always looking for something, or someone, to blame.

With steadily declining economic freedom — SA fell in the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World index from 58th to 84th between 2000 and last year — and the concomitant lack of economic opportunities and growth, it is little surprise that the government is always looking for something, or someone, to blame.

However, seeking to increase state control to the level of establishing job reservation-type edicts has no moral basis, and would make little economic sense (“Job reservation is on the cards, government confirms”, February 13).

The idea of reserving jobs falsely assumes that the potential number of jobs is fixed. Such a position places the state at the centre of all economic activity, as if bureaucrats and politicians had before them a dashboard of all sectors according to which they could fill a fixed number of available slots.

Of course, in a context of ever less economic freedom, job opportunities do indeed become more limited, and what matters most is the political power one has. The answer is not to double down on state intervention, but to reduce as much stifling red tape as possible, and encourage win-win business formation, capital investment and job opportunities.

Reserving jobs for certain groups would be the latest in a long line of anti-economic freedom, command-control ideas and policies that have pushed the country to the precipice of record-high unemployment. It will do nothing to fix the numerous problems with SA’s immigration framework and border post operations, while simply providing an illusion of “doing something”.

Making it yet more difficult for foreigners to live and work in SA also will not cure the problems that blight public education, and inhibit skills development among South Africans. Blaming foreigners for SA’s economic woes may score a few cheap short-term points (at the risk of increased conflict between groups), but shifts attention away from those government ideas and policies, particularly in the area of labour law, that are really to blame for the country’s current economic malaise.

Chris Hattingh 
Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2022-02-14-letter-reserving-jobs-is-not-the-answer/

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