During the previous financial year the consumer protection unit reached a total of 8 721 people and saved consumers an estimated R1.9 million

File image: IOL

WHILE there are currently
125 313 people without employment in the Northern Cape, the Province also has the highest rate of young people, aged 15 to 24 years, not in employment, education and training.

This is according to figures presented yesterday during the tabling of the Finance, Economic Development and Tourism budget by MEC Maruping Lekwene in the Northern Cape Legislature.

According to Lekwene, the provincial economy grew at 2.8% in 2017, an improvement from the below par growth of -1.2% experienced in 2016.

The number of unemployed people, however, increased by
12 652 in the second quarter of 2019, with the Province having the highest rate of young people unemployed and the second highest for those aged 15 to 34 years, at a rate of 45.9%.

“The high youth unemployment means young people are not acquiring the skills or experience needed to drive the economy forward. This inhibits the Province’s economic development and imposes a larger burden on the state to provide social assistance.”

In terms of business regulation and governance, Lekwene pointed out that during the previous financial year the consumer protection unit reached a total of 8 721 people and saved consumers an estimated R1.9 million.

“The department has also started the rationalisation of both the gambling and liquor boards. A departmental rationalisation committee has been set up to oversee finality of this process,” Lekwene stated.

The Northern Cape Gambling Board, which is tasked with the responsibility of regulating the gambling industry in the Province, collected almost R24 million during the 2018/19 financial year.

“The Northern Cape Liquor Board (NCLB) continues to develop and strengthen existing partnerships with a variety of stakeholders to stem the tide of alcohol abuse in our Province and country. I am particularly pleased to report that for the period under review our partnership with South African Police Service (SAPS) resulted in the closure of illegal alcohol trading operations throughout the Province.”

He pointed out that the liquor board conducted an average of
1 500 compliance inspections and 30 educational awareness programmes across the Province.

The department will also, according to Lekwene, look into strengthening and expanding the Northern Cape Economic Development Agency’s mandate to fulfil its functions as an agent in the area of trade and investment promotion which should grow exports and attract foreign direct investment into the Province.

It will also explore prospects from the oceans economy specifically looking at the implementation of a tourism master plan for Hondeklipbaai, McDougall Bay and the Kleinzee Tourism Beach Precinct Plan

The budget allocation of the department for the 2019/20 financial year amounts to R327.997 million. This represents a cut of
R67 million over the 2020/21 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period.

Administration will receive R70.1 million.

Integrated Economic Development Service will receive
R66.4 million.

Trade and Sector Development will receive R50.2 million (of which R18 million will be transferred to the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (NCEDA).

Business Regulation and Governance has been allocated R 43.270 million of which the liquor board received R13.309 million and the gambling board R15.531 million.

Policy, Research and Innovation will received R24 million.

Tourism has been allocated R74 million of which R24 million will be transferred to the NCTA.

– Staff Writer