Posted on Friday, 11 March 2016 12:41

South African voices on the winds of economic change

Xhanti payi Economist, Nascence Advisory & Research. Photo©All Rights ReservedSouth African economist Xhanti Payi talks about why both government and business need a shift in thinking to address the country's economic quagmire.

Firstly, we need to rebuild confidence in the market. Secondly, the private sector needs to start taking risks and invest in the country. And lastly, government needs to start implementing its major infrastructure projects.

If our businesses are in Africa and still importing from China, why don't they set up factories here?

Jacob Zuma and the finance ministry changes have given us a basis to reflect on the terms under which our economic system works. Confidence is a major thing. Zuma turned the system upside down. This was a shock to many and eroded confidence.

South Africans have been spoilt. Business does depend on the government, but they don't want to see this fact. Business consults with government; it sells to the government; and government banks with it.

The private sector needs to invest in the country to ensure things happen. If it doesn't, the slow growth and the lack of jobs is set to continue.

Business says that labour needs to be more productive, but one needs to invest in training to ensure people are more productive. It is rather twisted, with business always calling on the government to train people.

Business needs to come to the party. Labour cannot buy a better machine; it cannot shift the production process if there is no investment. Business needs to invest in people and start taking risks. If you invest in the people, then we can start competing with China and Brazil. The ANC has a point when they say business is not coming to the table.

Government needs to be serious about implementing infrastructure projects and prioritise the main ones. If you say you want to industrialise certain sectors, then identify the key
people to help steer that programme. If that is done within three years, one would see progress.

There is no such thing as job creation: it's about people and being productive. Sectors like agriculture and energy are growing, but it's off the back of a particular need in the economy.

In the late 1990s, banks invested heavily in human capital and technology and trained people. The banks invested in new systems and created thousands of skilled jobs. Manufacturers need to do this. If our businesses are in Africa and still importing from China, why don't they set up factories here?

The exclusion of black people in the economy will be to the detriment of the country. We are not going to create jobs if we have the same mindset. We are stuck in the old way of thinking. Economies that have been successful have been innovative and have invested in building capacity. ●

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