BLSA MEDIA RELEASE: SONA ADDRESS
POSTED ON: February 9, 2023 IN by Admin
It’s important for government to limit the use of the extra powers it has granted itself purely to address the loadshedding crisis on a least-regret basis.
BLSA MEDIA RELEASE: SONA ADDRESS
9 February 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa made a bold move in announcing in his state-of-the-nation address (SONA) that he would appoint a minister of electricity within the presidency to oversee implementation of the energy action plan.
It is of course concerning that the energy sector will now be governed by the Presidency as well as two other ministries, the Department of Public Enterprises, which the President said would continue to be responsible for Eskom and steer its restructuring, and the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE). Delineating clear responsibilities will be important, particularly between the ministers of energy and electricity.
But BLSA is encouraged by this move. The President said he was installing the new electricity minister within the Presidency because he needed someone to be centrally located to work day and night on resolving loadshedding and indeed, concerns have often been raised about the DMRE’s commitment to the extremely important goal of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. We hope the new minister will be able to accelerate the processes needed to address both the short-term imperative of addressing load-shedding and the longer-term need to increase the country’s electricity generation capacity at a faster pace.
The announcement of the state of disaster, though, is concerning in the context of the over-reach and undermining of citizens’ rights that occurred during the Covid 19 state of disaster as well as the massive corruption linked to Covid-related tenders.
Another concern is that BLSA believes that many of the above measures could be implemented effectively without a state of disaster.
It’s important, therefore, for government to limit the use of the extra powers it has granted itself purely to address the loadshedding crisis on a least-regret basis.
If used responsibly and effectively though, the state of the disaster, along with the new electricity minister driving the energy reforms, do offer hope of faster implementation of the measures needed to end load-shedding in the short term and secure our energy supply over the longer term through increased generation capacity.
One other element related to the energy crisis was encouraging – a commitment to encouraging the uptake of rooftop solar installations for households and businesses. President Ramaphosa said the Minister of Finance would outline in his Budget speech how households will be assisted and how businesses will be able to benefit from a tax incentive.
National Treasury was also working on adjustments to the bounce-back loan scheme to help small businesses invest in solar equipment, and to allow banks and development finance institutions to borrow directly from the scheme to facilitate the leasing of solar panels to their customers.
These are encouraging moves that BLSA has been calling for as it reduces demand on the national grid.
The emphasis the President placed on improving the country’s ability to attract skilled immigration is encouraging to business because progress here has been slow. He said government would move quickly to implement recommended measures including establishing a more flexible points-based system to attract skilled immigration, implementing a trusted employer scheme to make the visa process easier for large investors and streamlining application requirements.
He also said government would be introducing a remote worker visa, and a special dispensation for high-growth start-ups. These are encouraging moves.
Small business sector
We were pleasantly surprised to hear that the red tape reduction team in the Presidency under Sipho Nkosi has been working with various departments to make it easier to do business after this unit was announced in last year’s SONA. There has been little communication on this important and BLSA therefore welcomes this announcement and urges expedited implementation.
He also promised that amendments to the Businesses Act to reduce regulatory impediments for SMMEs and co-operatives and make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses would be finalised this year.
The President gave a welcome update on the recommendations of the Zondo Commission to establish state structures to combat corruption, including an anti-corruption agency. He said the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, consisting of people from across society, was already in place to advise on suitable mechanisms to stem corruption, including an overhaul of the institutional architecture for combatting corruption.
Government was also working to capacitate the Witness Protection Unit and the President promised to introduce amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act and Witness Protection Act to strengthen protections for whistleblowers. Work was also under way to improve access to the witness protection programme for public servants who expose maladministration, corruption and unethical conduct.
While this is encouraging, BLSA would like more transparency on this important process.
Apart from the above factors there was little new in the SONA but the President did outline the often considerable progress already made in other areas. We hope the goals he has set of giving fresh impetus to all the important reforms he outlined are enthusiastically adopted by the new leadership team that comes in through the expected Cabinet reshuffle. We need a united government committed to overcoming obstacles and ensuring successful implementation of all the reforms. We look forward to further detail on key announcements in the upcoming Budget, which we expect will balance the joint imperatives of fiscal sustainability and investment in our economy and society.
BLSA is fully committed to continue supporting government wherever and however it can in implementing the reforms that pave the way for building a growing, inclusive economy that creates jobs and eases inequality.
For more information, please contact:
Internal Communications and Media Relations Manager
Tel: 011 356 4650 Email: email@example.com
Have your say.
Share your opinion