Hon Inkosi Em Buthelezi, MPL
When the Hon MEC for Finance presented the Provincial Budget for 2016/2017, she was honest with regard to the economic outlook for KwaZulu-Natal. In her Budget Speech she stated:
“The growth rate in 2015 was 1.1%. This moderate rate is, however, expected to slow down to 0.6% in 2016 before accelerating marginally to 1.3% in 2017.”
This reveals the sad reality of the bleak future prospects faced by our province and our country. If government is serious about addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality, then it has to address the issue of economic development through foreign direct investments, private sector confidence and a reduction in the import of goods that should be locally manufactured.
It is a matter of utmost urgency that we address the issue of creating sustainable jobs by improving investor confidence. But this cannot happen when we are witness to ongoing service delivery protests, taxi blockades of arterial roads and the burning down of factories like we saw at Isithebe recently. Such events only serve to destroy business confidence and drive away established businesses that have been providing jobs to our citizens.
Honourable Chairperson; a peaceful and stable province will attract investors and therefore we to stop the service delivery protests that often turn violent, put an end to taxi blockades that sees employees not being able to get to work on time and eradicate crime across our province. We need a government that is working as a team and not divided in its focus on growing our economy and creating a stable and prosperous province.
If we are serious about attracting investors and creating sustainable jobs, then we need to remove unnecessary red tape and speed up processes associated with environmental impact assessments and the issuing of licences and permits. Many multi-national companies do not wait around while we drag our heels in finalising EIAs.
These delays frustrate investors and when they find us lacking in competence, they look for other locations outside KZN to establish their businesses. COGTA has an important role to play in this regard especially when municipal approval and support is required. We must ensure that investors are given swift and efficient services and that they are not frustrated by unnecessary delays.
The IFP is pleased to note that the Richards Bay IDZ is meeting its targets with regard to the 50-year Master Plan with the possibility of exporting processed commodities to other countries.
It is encouraging to note that the motor car industry is expanding its operations in KZN. The automotive industry is now seeing the potential that KZN has to offer and for this we must thank the Department for promoting our province as a destination of choice. The establishment of the Automotive Supplier Park at the Dube Trade Port is an encouraging sign.
Also significant is the recent report that heavy minerals mining company Tronox which will supply titanium dioxide to the US, Netherlands and Australia, officially opened its new R3.3-billion Fairbreeze mine in Empangeni. This venture created almost 2 000 jobs.
In addition Nestle South Africa inaugurated its instant coffee plant in Estcourt with a R1.2bn investment in factory expansion. This development has created about 500 jobs in the area.
These investments are beneficial as they go a long way in creating more sustainable jobs and helping to grown our economy. What is even more encouraging is that these developments are taking place in areas where unemployment levels are high.
I am pleased to acknowledge the progress that is being made with regard to attracting international airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways into King Shaka International Airport. These, in addition to the flights to and from some SADC countries, will greatly assist the image of our airport as an international airport and as a point of entry into South Africa. The KZN Tourism Authority now needs to build on this and engage with more of the major airlines.
It is also encouraging to note that there is progress with regard to KZN becoming a significant role player in the film industry. This industry will serve to attract international film producers and all other stakeholders associated with the film industry to our province. The economic spin-off will greatly assist in reducing unemployment and boosting our ailing economy.
Honourable Chairperson, the severe drought that we have been experiencing has affected our tourism industry and has also threatened our wildlife population. Many watering holes in our game reserves such as Tembe Elephant Park, Hluhluwe Game Reserve and Ithala Game Reserve went dry. In view of the fact that our game reserves attract a large number of foreign and local tourists all year round, it would have been wise for Ezemvelo Wildlife to have been given additional funding in order to cater for such eventualities in the future. We cannot afford to lose our precious animals that have found a home in our game reserves. In this regard the IFP welcomes the increased allocation to Ezemvelo Wildlife to assist in its rhino anti-poaching efforts as well as the increased transfer of R9.8million to the KZN Sharks Board. It must always be remembered that apart from protecting and preserving our wildlife and marine resources, both Ezemvelo Wildlife and the Sharks Board also contribute to the tourism industry of the province. It is, therefore important that such entities are suitably resourced to carry out their respective mandates.
Honourable Chairperson, I now turn to the establishment of the KZN Property Development Holding SOC Ltd which is a subsidiary of Ithala that is being established with a view to facilitating strategic investment in fixed property in the province. While we speak of cost-saving measures on the one hand, here we see the creation of yet another entity. Surely, if there is need for the province to look into the property market, there must be provision within Ithala itself to set up a division that can explore such ventures.
We hope that the Department will take the advice of Provincial Treasury to ensure that the correct procedures are followed in terms of receiving National Treasury approval for the establishment of this new entity and that the requirements of the PFMA are adhered to.
Honorouble Chairperson, whilst there are claims that we have a people-centered government. We need to empower our people to participate freely in the economy by making it easier for entrepreneurs as well as for the unemployed to contribute to the economy of our province. We speak of assisting people to start up small businesses and we set up structures to assist them, but most often those who most need such information and assistance are in the deep rural areas.
We need to reach out to those people by taking such services to them and empower them to realise their dreams. It does not help much to have service centres in the towns and cities only when our people do not have easy access to them.
This is not beyond the potential of this Department to take such services closer to our people.
Honourable Chairperson, the IFP supports the budget of R2.703billion that is allocated to this Department.
Hon Inkosi EM Buthelezi
072 390 6112