The Presidential Working Committee on Jobs has wrapped up its final meeting for the current calendar year by shining the spotlight on progress being made to realise local procurement as well as agricultural sector commitments.
The meeting, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, took place at Nedlac House, in Rosebank, on Monday.
The Presidential Working Committee was established to accelerate implementation of the commitments made at the Jobs Summit held in 2018 to create jobs and stem job losses. The Working Committee is composed of leaders of government, labour, business and civil society.
On local procurement, the meeting received a report on ongoing work to create a transparent business-to-business procurement platform to allow more companies, especially black owned companies, to compete for procurement in order to increase the uptake of locally produced goods by domestic retailers.
Working together with Proudly South African and the Manufacturing Circle, there is also an ongoing project to identify imported products purchased in large enough volumes to warrant exploration of local production and encourage business to review their procurement budgets to increase expenditure from local producers.
Social partners are collaborating to strengthen support for supplier development and access to markets for small, medium and micro enterprises. The Presidential Working Committee is further collecting data on company-specific interventions to identify opportunities.
With the Committee tasked with addressing some of the main impediments to job creation, the President commended the steady progress made in this regard.
This includes the piloting of eVisas, the acceleration of the water licensing process, the process towards spectrum allocation and a more pragmatic approach to attracting critical skills to the country.
“Through these meetings, we have witnessed the value of working through issues as social partners. We are still some distance from where we want to be.
“We are not yet seeing the results of new investments or the benefits of policy reforms but the progress we have made is stirring hope. We need now to convert that hope into investment, growth and jobs,” said President Ramaphosa.
The committee also welcomed progress in land reform, noting that a number of private land owners and farmers had voluntarily taken the initiative to address equitable access to land. The meeting encouraged more initiatives of such a nature.
The meeting noted that more work still remains to be done to improve and expand the grain and livestock value chains, including expansion of feedlots, as well as growing the poultry industry to position it for the export market.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is working with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to increase exports of meat and fruit products to the Middle East and Asia.
Labour called for greater attention to be given to the challenges faced by farm workers including access to support structures in the event of evictions.
The President expressed satisfaction that momentum is building to address regulatory barriers and welcomed the progress made to date, noting that “greater determination and urgency is required in the implementation of the identified reforms”.