Reigniting economic recovery and job creation are key aspects of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government this year.
Presenting the State of the Province Address on Friday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey which were released by Statistics SA this week painted a gloomy national picture.
This as the number of unemployed persons increased from 6,5 million in the third quarter of 2020 to 7,2 million in the fourth quarter.
The largest decreases in employment recorded in KwaZulu-Natal was down by 210 000. During the same period, the largest employment increases recorded in KwaZulu-Natal was up by 66 000.
“These figures indicate that the number of jobs created is outshone by a higher number of job losses. Thus, our economic recovery focuses directly on job creation,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala noted that the devastation from COVID-19 and the economic decline compound the living environment which gives rise to social ills and crime.
However, he assured citizens of the province that through working together, this will be overcome.
He also noted that government is compelled to reprioritise existing resources in order to among others, support ailing business and provide a social safety net for the poor.
“Reduced revenue impacts on government expenditure. We will however continue to improve on our efficiencies, ensuring that we redirect funds to the delivery of basic government services. We will also sharpen government’s leadership in the recovery of the provincial economy.
“For these reasons the core of this address is the unveiling of a Provincial Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan, the details of which will find expression in further announcements in the coming weeks,“ said the Premier.
The Provincial Executive Council Lekgotla has agreed that strict focus and energies will be spent on five priorities, and these include intensifying the fight against the Coronavirus; re-igniting economic recovery and job creation; building social cohesion, fighting crime and corruption; delivering basic services in particular water; and building a capable and ethical development State.
Zikalala said that the key pillar of KwaZulu-Natal Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is centred on enhancing the industrial base.
The provincial government will focus on fast tracking implementation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) project pipeline; incubate clothing and textile SEZs and other industrial hubs.
This includes the leather industry hub; supporting the localisation of value chains; and reviving Industrial Estates (Isithebe, Madadeni, EZakheni) and creating linkages with private estates to increase investment propensity.
“In the year, we will focus on advocate for Trade Policy change to support localisation; government to commit to buying locally manufactured products; avail land for industrial development in all municipalities; export led industrialisation – Intra-Africa FTA (AfCFTA), SADC (Southern African Development Community), non-traditional partners; and fast-track regulatory approvals (reduce turnaround times),” the Premier said.