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State of the Nation Address: Nothing new expected from President Ramaphosa


Analysts are doubtful that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday will unveil new policy initiatives

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: ELmond Jiyane, GCIS

BUSINESS and political analysts are doubtful President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday will unveil new policy initiatives but want him to push for the implementation of previously announced plans to rebuild the economy.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver the Sona on Thursday at 7pm before a hybrid joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament under the theme: “Following up on our commitments: Making your future work better”.

Absa economist Peter Worthington said: “We do not expect any major announcements when President Ramaphosa delivers the Sona. The reality is that market expectations for Sonas are typically so low that any favourable and unexpected reform announcement would be a lift to sentiment.

“No doubt much of the Sona will focus on the government’s response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Ramaphosa is also likely to provide some information on the deliberations of the Cabinet lekgotla in January, including possibly the extension of the social relief of distress grant, at a cost of about R3 billion per month.”

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said: “Don’t expect anything new. What is important now is for the president to talk about implementation of priority projects.

“When the government is in the middle of major problems, as it is now, it tends to defer major decisions. I think the president will react by kicking the can down the road to the Budget. This is not because the government is necessarily inefficient, but because it probably needs more time.”

Business Leadership SA (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso said: “Business now needs clarity in order to plan around the risks of a third wave which may reach us before a critical mass of vaccinations has been achieved.

“Business worked alongside other social partners and the government to develop the economic recovery plan that has been backed by the Cabinet. We need now to move beyond planning to action. Everyone is aligned.

“In last year’s Sona, the president promised that spectrum auctions and a fifth round of the renewable energy programme would happen in 2020. These still haven’t happened. Of course, the pandemic interrupted many plans but it is now crucial that the president provides evidence that these will happen in short order.”

Secretary-general of the Black Business Chamber Khaya Cishe said: “Last year, during the pandemic, the government launched a R200 billion loan guarantee scheme to enable banks to lend to small businesses suffering from Covid-19-related financial distress, but by the end of the year only about R20bn had been taken up and banks were struggling to dispense more.

“This was as a direct result of strict, unfavourable compliance issues that affect mainly small black businesses. We are hoping that Ramaphosa will address these issues to help small black-owned businesses.”

South African Institution of Civil Engineering chief executive Vishaal Lutchman said: “We are calling on the government to revitalise and rebuild the South African economy by focusing on key pillars that are fundamental to service delivery such as technology, skills development, society at a grassroots level, sustainability and the integration of key institutions to have a common vision linked to the objectives of the NDP.”

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