Business Unity SA broadly welcomes #SONA, makes recommendations
JOHANNESBURG - Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's focus on the economy and transformation as well as his endorsement of the Reserve Bank's constitutionally enshrined mandate and independence in his speech on Thursday.
In his State of the Nation Address in Parliament, Ramaphosa said economic transformation and job creation would be apex among seven priorities for his administration.
BUSA said there needed to be recognition among social partners that the country was in crisis and must mount a collective effort to reverse this trend.
The lobby group said Ramaphosa's pronouncements on state-owned Eskom were broadly aligned with business' view on how to deal with the crisis engulfing the electricity utility. It applauded the imminent appointment of a chief restructuring officer.
Ramaphosa announced that the government would release a "significant portion" of the R230 billion allocated to Eskom over the next decade early to shore up its depleted balance sheet.
BUSA urged the president to publicly announce a clear time frame, with milestones, for the implementation of recommendations from his advisory panel on the utility.
It noted that a comprehensive plan and strategy on troubled state-owned enterprises was still outstanding, even as the contagion spread, posing a major risk to public finances and increasing the spectre of a sovereign credit rating downgrade.
BUSA said it was also concerned that the country would not be able to address its various challenges in a forthright and comprehensive manner, pointing to the questionable calibre of many of the recent appointments to chair parliamentary committees.
On the plus side, it cheered Ramaphosa's focus on education, skills and health.
Busa also welcomed the planned changes to current visa regulations, urging Ramaphosa to suspend those that had made it difficult for tourists and foreigners with skills to come into the country.
"We are well aware of the challenges confronting the country. But the time for talking is over, we must enter the realm of implementation, and we must do it quickly," BUSA president Sipho Pityana said.
"As business, we stand ready and willing to play a meaningful and constructive role, as we believe that the government cannot go it alone. But we need detail, and we need it soon, if we are to strengthen confidence at home and abroad."