SONA 2017: TOGETHER WE CAN GROW AND TRANSFORM THE ECONOMY

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7 February 2017

This SONA is delivered in the year Oliver Reginald Tambo would have turned 100 years old! Oliver Tambo remains a sterling personification of the values all South Africans should embody and practice, irrespective of party-political affiliation and sector to which one belongs. Oliver Tambo lived his life so as to benefit all of the diverse people in our country. He recognized the worth and potential contribution of each individual, which when brought together, builds SA. He espoused honesty, discipline, unity and hard work.

We believe this SONA should be informed by these values and by his example!

We have demonstrated the benefits of collaboration between sectors during 2016. The CEO/Labour initiative, with the blessing of government, has produced impressive results in just one year. We have avoided a ratings downgrade and started putting SA onto an inclusive growth path, albeit at still very low levels. We have raised R 1, 7 billion from the private sector for the SME Fund, which will now start implementation. We have been working hard to invest in low-growth industries and have exploited to the fullest investments in industries with high growth potential. The youth employment initiative is beginning to take form. We have also made progress in the banking sector with the establishment of a Centre for Excellence for the Financial Sector, which we committed to in 2016.

The business sector has also made significant contributions to addressing the tertiary fees issue, through funding the pilot for the Ikusasa Financial Aid Scheme to funding and providing human capacity to make Nasfas more efficient.

We expect this SONA to consolidate this type of collaboration. The current narrative is about “radical economic transformation.” We agree totally that economic transformation must be firmly on the agenda and all sectors of society must introspect honestly and frankly on their role in this. The CEO Initiative has already started doing this and will be engaging CEO’s and others in business to develop a robust restructuring agenda. The Banking Association South Africa (BASA) is also developing a robust agenda for transformation in the sector and will participate in hearings before the Standing Committee on Finance.

We would urge the President to address economic transformation in his SONA as a collaborative effort amongst critical stakeholders to build on the diverse economy we already have and send the message that economic transformation is a South African issue, irrespective of race or class. We urge the President to unite our country under the banner of sustainable and progressive economic transformation that will put the country onto an inclusive growth path and enable the participation of small and medium businesses, broaden access to financial services, increase employment, reduce poverty and build an equitable society.

We also urge the President to give impetus to aspects of his 2016 SONA that have not progressed to the extent necessary. These include addressing remaining governance, management and mandate deficiencies in SOEs, resolving the MPRDA Bill and outstanding issues in the minerals sector, reducing political and policy uncertainty and ensuring the on-going protection of key institutions.

In conclusion, we believe the critical message has not changed between SONA 2016 and SONA 2017. This message is that of inclusive economic growth. Economic transformation, strength of SOE’s protection of key institutions and a united effort are all key ingredients to achieving sustained inclusive economic growth at levels that address poverty, unemployment and inequality in a significant way!
 
ENDS
 
Issued for and on behalf of the Banking Association South Africa
For media enquiries or an interview with the MD please contact:
Ms Wisahl Jappie
Tel: +27 21 424 3125 / 1443
Cell: +27 72 227 1144
E-Mail: wjappie@ethicore.co.za
 
Note to Editors:
The Banking Association South Africa

The role of The Banking Association is to facilitate the enablement of a conducive banking environment through robust engagement with government and relevant stakeholders. A critical role of The Banking Association is to work with its members to enable this role within the context of the transformation challenges prevailing in South Africa. For more on The Banking Association South Africa visit – www.banking.org.za

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