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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 September 2004
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT AGREEMENTS: NEDLAC PROGRESS REPORT
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
NEDLAC Growth and Development Summit Progress Report on Implementation
NEDLAC Presentation: GDS Agreements Progress Reports
Comments Made by the NEDLAC Overall Business Convenor Raymond Parsons
The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) briefed the Committee on progress with the implementation of agreements reached at the 2003 Growth and Development Summit (GDS). It pointed out that the four main agreements on job creation, investment, empowerment and local action were being implemented through key interventions and initiatives. However, their real impact would only be known once NEDLAC had put in place monitoring mechanisms and conducted an impact analysis.
The Committee was critical of the lack of detail in NEDLAC’s presentation, specifically with reference to initiatives and projects that were already in place. However, they were somewhat placated by NEDLAC’s promise that it would supply the Committee with more details as and when they became available.
Mr H Mkhize, NEDLAC Executive Director, made the presentation after introducing his delegation. This consisted of Mr R Parsons, Business Convenor; Mr S Shezi, Community Convenor and Mr T Sabata, Department of Labour (DOL).
The highlights of the presentation included that the GDS on 7 June 2003 had brought together the NEDLAC constituencies to answer a call by the President of South Africa for a summit where ways could be found to address the country’s main challenges. The constituencies identified promoting and mobilising investment and creating decent work for all; ensuring economic empowerment; eradicating poverty and strategically engaging globalisation to the best advantage of the country as priorities for collaboration. This led to agreements on four main GDS themes:
• more jobs, better jobs and decent work for all;
• addressing the investment challenge;
• advancing equity, developing skills, creating economic opportunities for all and extending services;
• local action and implementation.
Each of the four GDS themes had been translated into key interventions. In terms of jobs creation, these interventions consisted of public investment initiatives; the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP); sector partnerships; local procurement; small enterprise promotion; support for co-operatives; and jobs impact and monitoring. On the investment challenge, these interventions consisted of the five per cent investable income requirement; administered prices and import parity; contractual savings; housing; the financial sector charter and the financial sector summit agreements. On advancing equity, interventions would entail black economic empowerment; employment equity; promoting literacy; learnerships; strengthening Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs); education and providing access to basic needs. Interventions on local action implementation would consist of local level planning; local economic development; provision of local infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms.
Mr Mkhize emphasised that the key challenges facing NEDLAC for successful implementation of the GDS agreements were developing key performance measurements; conducting an impact analysis; identifying external factors and addressing bottlenecks.
Mr Parsons also made a brief input during which he essentially repeated Mr Mkhize’s presentation, but added that organised business was wholly committed to the agreements reached at the GDS and was working hard to turn them into “tangible” outcomes.
An unidentified ANC Member wanted to know what NEDLAC was doing to assist education in rural areas and how learnerships could be applied for. She also wanted to know the importance of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).
Mr Mkhize responded that it was the responsibility of all social partners to assist with education and that progress had been made in that organised business had made provision for education in its social responsibility programmes while COSATU had held a summit with parents to inform them of their rights. He felt that partnerships should be created to address difficult issues such as school fees and the cost of uniforms. Mr Shezi added that it was vitally important for communities to know their rights in education and that exemption from paying school fees in the most impoverished areas should be considered.
Mr Sabata pointed out that the DOL had created twenty-five SETAs to implement learnerships. Applications could be made directly to the relevant SETA or people living in rural areas could register at their local labour centres.
Mr Parsons said the formation of BUSA was a milestone for organised business at it positions it “more appropriately” in the democratic South Africa. BUSA provided business with a single voice within NEDLAC and in other forums.
Mr N Mogale (ANC) wanted confirmation that some 8 million people were currently unemployed and questioned Mr Parsons’ statement that GDP growth for 2004 would be in the region of three per cent. Mr Sabata responded that the exact number of unemployed people was unclear as was the extent to which jobs had been lost since 1994. However, it was known that 1, 6 million jobs had been created between 1995 and 2003 and that the labour force participation rate had increased.
Mr Parsons pointed out that the economic growth rate he quoted was a prediction at this stage. If achieved it would be impressive considering that 2003 GDP growth was around 1, 9 per cent. However, South Africa, as a leading emerging market country could, and should, do a lot better, he added.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) commented that his constituency constantly asked him about the quantifiable outcomes of the GDS such as the EPWP but that very little had been realised at grassroots level. He also questioned Mr Parsons about a statement he had made in an earlier meeting to the effect that South Africa had a lot of “unfinished business” to attend to.
Mr Parsons said his statement had referred to a call by the President that the country needed more job creation, economic growth and foreign investment. The business community agreed with the President that these aspects represented “unfinished business”.
Mr Ngodi (ANC) commented that the NEDLAC briefing lacked specifics about projects and initiatives that were currently underway. He added that it seemed strange to him that NEDLAC had convened a GDS only after being in existence for almost nine years.
Mr Mkhize responded that the briefing never intended focusing on specifics, but rather on progress with the overall implementation of the GDS agreements. He pointed out that NEDLAC had gotten off to a slow start after the GDS and that it was only in November 2003 that the first tangible results had been evident. The process was now moving ahead much faster and as specifics became available they would be forwarded to the Committee. NEDLAC’s monitoring and impact analysis would result in more detailed information becoming available shortly, he stated.
Mr Parsons added that NEDLAC had annual summits driven by either the President or Deputy President. He pointed out that the GDS was not the first major NEDLAC summit but that a Jobs Summit had been convened five years ago which resulted in the Proudly SA campaign and the formation of the Business Trust, among others.
The meeting was adjourned with a call by the Chairperson that a follow-up meeting be arranged where NEDLAC would provide more detail to the Committee.
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