5 September 2013
South Africa should move ahead with implementing the parts of the National Development Plan (NDP) on which there is agreement, while continuing to refine other parts of the plan, says African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Addressing a Banking Association of South Africa summit in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said that, rather than be defensive about the document or call for it to be scrapped in its entirety, “we should identify where the plan has gaps … every plan in the universe has shortcomings and gaps”.
A policy blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa by 2030, the NDP identifies the key constraints to faster growth and presents a roadmap to a more inclusive economy that will address the country’s socio-economic imbalances.
The NDP was approved by Cabinet late last year and adopted by the ruling ANC at its elective conference in Mangaung in December.
President Jacob Zuma, in his reply to the debate on the Presidency’s budget vote in Parliament in June, reiterated the government’s support for the NDP as South Africa’s “long-term socio-economic development roadmap”, saying the plan “ensures certainty with regards to the direction of the country in the next 20 years”.
However, the NDP has come in for criticism from the ANC’s alliance partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Communist Party (SACP). The plan was a central topic of discussion at a meeting of the alliance partners over the weekend.
“Differences remain around the economic chapter, but in the end we should steam ahead where there is a full consensus,” said Ramaphosa, who is the deputy chairman of the National Planning Commission, the body that led the development of the NDP.
He told the Banking Association that South African business, and the financial services sector in particular, had a vital role to play in the implementation of the NDP, which he described as “an exercise in transformation and working together”.
“The task at hand requires a different way of working. The NDP challenges us to make effective use of all of our resources, especially our people, and challenges us to work together to find solutions to the difficulties that we face.”
Ramaphosa said the country’s banks could play their part by increasing their support for small businesses, which the NDP identifies as a vital contributor to job creation.
“Banks need to investigate feasible ways to extend credit to small and medium businesses … We need to expand the notion of angel funding and various other mechanisms.”
Banks also had an important part to play in South Africa’s infrastructure build plans, which would need private sector involvement – and financing – in order to become a reality.
“We’ve embarked as a country on an unbelievable dream of spending over a trillion rand on infrastructure development. And this is where the financial services sector needs to play an important role,” he said.