26 years ago to the day our former President Nelson Mandela stepped out of prison. Today, 11 February 2016, our current President Jacob Zuma took to the podium for the SONA 2016.
The SONA addresses many issues from economics to social matters like education and welfare. My article is purely focussed on business and the key points I got for the SONA.
Invest SA Initiative is an initiative in partnership with the private sector to facilitate foreign investment and promote that “SA is open for business”. The initiative will review legislation with the aim of removing red tape. This worked in Rwanda who after implementing such an initiative moved up 40 places in the rankings of ease of doing business.
A specific focus was on promoting tourism with the reviewed VISA regulations and current weakened rand we should be attracting more foreign tourists. Further, R100mil per annum dedicated to domestic tourism for the next 5 years.
There was mention of the Black Industrialist Policy (BIP) which aims to establish black owned and managed industrialists.
The energy sector was a highlight with the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Program attracting R194bil in investment. The IPP success was also mentioned in Davos and is being internationally reviewed as successful PPP of which we need more.
President Zuma further mentioned the initiation of the Coal Independent Power Producers and that Gas to Power Bids will be opened this year.
DTI initiatives such as Automotive (AIS) attracted R25bil investment in past 5 years with the Textile Sector growth aided by support through the CTCP and PIP with the IDC.
The emphasis on incentives remains strong with investment from the DTI to attract foreign and local investment based on IPAP and the NDP. Looking at the importance of innovation in the global economy a Sovereign Innovation Fund which is to be housed with the Department of Science and Technology was referred to.
With regard to labour, the national min wage was touched on a note that the figure was still being discussed. Further, VISA regulation for imported scarce skills will be reviewed.
There was little depth in these matters at the SONA, which for me means the speech was a “No Deal” but we will have to compare this to the notes of the Budget Speech by Minister Pravin Gordhan on 24th February 2016 to see if there is more meat these highlights. If not, we must - as Matsi Modise said - begin “redefining what we deserve”.