By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
SOUTH AFRICA’s revised National Development Plan (NDP) could be the foundation for a new age of co-operation between business and government, a leading business organisation believes.
It is the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry which has welcomed the NDP as a progressive step for the prosperity of South Africa.
Michael Bagraim, President of the Chamber said: “We think the priorities are right and we are confident that there will be broad support from business as the plan is implemented.”
He said the Chamber agreed with the recommended approach to education which was designed to improve the management of schools and reward those schools which produced significant improvement in their results.
“This has to be the starting point for the future and we believe the plan is right to insist on more responsibility for principles rather than additional resources. The school text book saga proves the point. The resources in the form of books are there but the management of the logistics to get them to the schools is the problem and that is where we need the improvement.”
Bagraim said he was also pleased to see that the NDP had found that high starting salaries were aggravating the unemployment situation. “Lower starting salaries will encourage firms to take on young, inexperienced people. Once the new employees have acquired skills and become more productive companies will be happy to pay them normal wages,” he said.
The Chamber was particularly pleased to see the support for natural gas as a fuel for power stations. “Gas will prove to be much cheaper than Nuclear power and gas power stations can be built in a fraction of the time it takes to build nuclear or coal-fired plants. This is vital because we need more electricity sooner rather than later as economic growth is already being strangled by the shortage and high cost of electricity.”
Bagraim added that gas could be used to generate electricity at the coast.
“At present the coastal areas are dependent on power from the north. The transmission lines are expensive and power is lost in transmission over these long distances so it makes sense to generate electricity at the coast. It will be cost effective and it will improve energy security.”