9 March, 2017
Mr Gordhan praises CEO Initiative
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has praised the business leaders of the CEO Initiative as "innovators" who have demonstrated that it is possible for business, labour and government to work together on key projects.
The trust established between the three parties last year will be the foundation for continued efforts to address key challenges that South Africa faced in 2017, he said. The minister was speaking at the CEO Initiative Meeting on January 30, at which the business leaders reflected on achievements of last year, and discussed challenges and projects in the year to come.
Dolphin Bay is a member of the National Business Initiative, the secretariat to the CEO Initiative which, operating as part of Team SA, worked to avert the South African economy being downgraded to junk status last year, and to promote international investors' confidence in our economy. The downgrade was successfully averted, despite the ratings agencies having given it a likelihood of over 50%, and financial markets have not been pricing in the prospect of a downgrade for this financial year, although the risk remains.
Dolphin Bay is proud of and encouraged by the work of the NBI and the proactive stance that business leaders are taking to safeguard our economy and, with it, businesses and countless jobs. While the economic volatility of last year has calmed down slightly, the CEO Initiative is continuing its hard work to safeguard and even expand the South African economy, rather than easing off on its efforts.
Dolphin Bay is continuing to report on this work in order to inform our members that the momentum of this valuable business grouping is continuing, and even expanding. We hope and trust that our clients, too, will feel encouraged by the extraordinary efforts of business leaders, and by the successes of their collaboration - even while acknowledging that the challenges ahead are daunting.
At the meeting, Mr Gordhan described an unpredictable and uncertain international landscape in which there was low economic growth, and where the full effects of BREXIT and Donald Trump's presidency in the US were not yet known. A CEO Initiative presentation has outlined the enormous challenges South Africa continued to face, including political turbulence and attacks on key institutions, a lack of demonstrable structural reforms to support a trajectory to higher levels of economic growth, mounting fiscal pressures and low levels of consumer and investor confidence. However, giving some good news, Mr Gordhan pointed out at the meeting that South Africa is seen as the most stable of emerging markets.
The Convenor of the CEO Initiative, high-profile business leader Jabu Mabuza, told those attending the meeting that 2017 would be a tough year. The focus of the CEO Initiative should be to retain our economy's current ratings status, and to improve upon it. When South Africans pull together, great things can be achieved, and collaboration will ensure that we prevail, he said. The CEO Initiative is working on two major job-creation projects. One is a Youth Employment Scheme, which aims to see over one million people aged 18-29 gain three-year, paid internships to give them the experience that employers typically require.
Government and business will share the costs of the scheme, and negotiations for government incentives for business, such as tax breaks, are under way.
In another project, the private sector has set aside R1.47bn for an SME Fund to help local entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Asked how companies should negotiate a growing sense of disillusionment about plans for job creation, the NBI Head of Membership and Communications, Gillian Hutchings, had this to say: "It's about not giving up - this is the spirit of the NBI. It's about being change agents, and points of inspiration. "It is not only business leaders who can make a difference to the society around us. All of us, whatever our sphere of influence, have a powerful role to play. The question is, ‘Am I in, or am I out?'"
Source: Dolphin Bay Chemicals