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Gore warns of ‘plateauing’ pace of delivery on power, logistics, crime reforms

Busa president and Discovery CEO Adrian Gore

Busa president and Discovery CEO Adrian Gore

Photo by Creamer Media's Donna Slater

29th November 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Business Unity South Africa (Busa) president Adrian Gore has warned that the pace of delivery across the joint initiatives being taken with government on electricity, logistics and crime is “plateauing” and has called for a greater sense of “urgency and determination” to re-establish momentum.

In a joint statement released following the latest high-level meeting between business and government convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, Gore attributed the recent lack of progress to “delays in regulatory and other approvals, as well as a slippage on the implementation of strategic plans, and the alignment of these to workable funding solutions”.

“We’ve agreed with the President that delays will be given urgent attention, and we will all ensure that momentum is maintained, key decisions are made, and policies implemented in line with agreed timelines.

“We need to act with a greater sense of urgency and determination to confront these challenges, given their severe impact on the economy as a whole,” Gore said, while emphasising that significant strides had been made in implementing reforms that could set the economy on a higher growth trajectory.

Busa CEO Cas Coovadia told Engineering News that Gore was referring specifically to the relatively slow progress being made on the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill. This, in contrast to the fact that a “deeply flawed” National Health Insurance Bill was poised to be approved by the National Council of Provinces without direct input from five provinces.

Coovadia said business also felt that it was urgent for Cabinet to approve the Freight Logistics Roadmap and for government to take the steps needed to open the way for the launch of the next renewables bidding round, which was initially scheduled for mid-2023.

Likewise, it wanted the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to provide various regulatory approvals to facilitate the introduction of new electricity capacity, including approval for wheeling and grid access.

Besides renewed high levels of loadshedding, the meeting also took place against the backdrop of an intensifying logistics crisis.

For this reason, business indicated to government that funding and/or debt relief needed to be prioritised for Transnet, without which there was little chance that the State-owned utility would be able to take the immediate actions required to ease port congestion, ramp up rail performance and create the systems needed for private sector participation on the port and rail networks.

DEEP CONCERN OVER NTSHAVENI’S COMMENTS

Coovadia also confirmed that business had entered the meeting with an intention to register a strong objection to recent comments by Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, in her role as Cabinet spokesperson, alleging that the private sector was seeking to engineer the collapse of the State.

While her remarks were in response to a rand manipulation-related settlement, her statement was taken as a broad-based criticism of business. A stance that she has since defended further in an opinion article.

Gore had, in his opening input, expressed deep concern about Ntshavheni’s statements, arguing that they sent a “wrong signal” in a context where business was making strenuous efforts to assist government in resolving the crises in the areas of electricity, logistics and crime.

However, the matter was not pursued further, largely because Ramaphosa used his opening remarks to acknowledge businesses unhappiness with her statements, which he said did not reflect government’s position.

The President also insisted, Coovadia related, that government remained fully committed to its partnership with business.

In the joint statement released after the meeting, Ramaphosa stated that he saw the partnership “as evidence of the business community’s commitment to building our country and overcoming the challenges that we face”.

The next meeting between government and business will be held in early 2024, where an action plan will be agreed for the year ahead.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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