Business aims to hold government accountable for Sona promises

14 February 2020 - 17:28 By Anathi Madubela
Business Unity SA CEO Cas Coovadia. The lobby group said it will engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa after some of its recommendations were not attended to at Sona 2020. File photo.
Business Unity SA CEO Cas Coovadia. The lobby group said it will engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa after some of its recommendations were not attended to at Sona 2020. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Robert Tshabalala

Business Unity S A (Busa) has welcomed some points raised in the state of the nation address (Sona), but plans to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa about some issues he did not address.

Ahead of Sona, the business lobby group put out a wish list of what they would like Ramaphosa to address.

After the Sona, Busa said they were “pleased the president referred to several of our recommendations and announced some movement in some of them. However, we would like to see a sense of urgency in approaching the structural challenges in the economy.”

The lengthy list included “urgent pronouncements on far-reaching economic structural reforms with an aim to attract investment and therefore grow the economy”, “a statement that public expenditure will be tempered in the budget and this would be a measure to address the fiscal crisis”, and “a clear position on a strategy to address the state-owned entity (SOE) crisis”, among other issues.

We would like to see a sense of urgency
Business Unity South Africa

Busa felt Ramaphosa did not resolutely address the issue of SOEs even though he spent a lot of time on Eskom and its positioning. He instead talked about rationalising SOEs and ensuring they contributed to growth and did not address governance, capacity, possible closure of nonstrategic SOEs and political interference.

An important point to ensure the government builds investor confidence was one point Busa felt was snubbed by the president.

“There was no mention of how the president will ensure his government operates cohesively and there will not be mixed messages from different parts of government,” the lobby group said.

“A clear example of such mixed messages, and the damage caused, is the current debacle about SAA. He did not touch on this, even though it erodes confidence.”

Busa said Ramaphosa was supposed to mention how he would ensure positive messages from all of government to attract investment and promote economic growth but this, too, was not mentioned.

“We expect the president to talk to this in our engagements as this also erodes confidence.”

The group highlighted other concerns it wants to discuss with the president, such as the establishment of a state bank at a time when SOEs are in severe trouble, and the introduction of a sovereign wealth fund which cannot be in the conversation until economic growth and the budget deficit is addressed.


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