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South Africa unveils $60bn economic recovery plan, targets 800,000 jobs

By News Desk, with agency report

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has unveiled a $60bn economic recovery plan aimed at rejigging the economy and lead the country out of recession worsened by outbreak of coronavirus across the globe.

Part of the plan, he said, were infrastructure build programme that would focus on schools, water, sanitation and housing, as well as ports, roads and railways.

Others include expanding power generation capacity to ensure reliable supplies, local production targets in sectors like agro-processing, healthcare and industrial equipment, and pushing through reforms to ease regulatory bottlenecks, including for miners.

Also included were extension of COVID-19 relief grant for three months, and 100 billion set aside for job creation initiatives for the next three years.

Addressing a joint sitting of parliament yesterday, the President said that his plan said could unlock more than one trillion rand ($60bn) in investment over the next four years and create more than 800,000 jobs as response the largest-ever gross domestic product (GDP) contraction recorded in the second quarter.

He noted that the country would embark on major public works and job-creation drive in response to the coronavirus crisis and return the continent’s most industrialised economy to growth.

He said modelling by the National Treasury showed it could raise annual economic growth to an average of around 3 percent over the next decade.

“Despite these vital interventions, however, the damage caused by the pandemic to an already weak economy, to employment, to livelihoods, to public finances and to state-owned companies has been colossal,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa was in recession before it recorded its first coronavirus infection in March, with one of the world’s strictest lockdowns and a global drop in demand for its exports causing GDP to fall by more than 17 percent in annual terms in the April-June quarter, when more than two million jobs were lost.

Ramaphosa’s government has been in talks with business and labour leaders for months trying to plot a path to recovery.

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