Infrastructure investment under the spotlight
28 Aug 2020
A key pillar of the reconstruction phase for South Africa post-Covid-19 will be further infrastructure investment and modernization of network industries.
The trade, industry and competition department highlighted this in a briefing to parliament on its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The department added that, in order to “maximize impact and prevent import leakages, localization prescripts will be significantly strengthened, in partnership with the private-sector”.
The department confirmed that work has commenced on measures to repair the damage of Covid-19.
“Critical challenges will include addressing structural problems that hold back job creation and inclusive growth.”
The department declared that transformation is a key objective to be pursued to ensure a fairer economy and the inclusion of larger numbers of South Africans such as youth, women and black industrialists.
As regards the National Empowerment Fund COVID-19 Black Business Fund, the department pointed out that the Fund received over 500 applications amounting to in excess of R1 billion.
To date, 28 projects to the value of approximately R174 million have been approved and 60% of the approved funding has been disbursed.
The department also indicated that the Competition Commission has continued its work to address excessive pricing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the last three months, further cases have been referred to the Competition Tribunal on a range of issues relating to excessive pricing cases on face masks, hand sanitiser and basic food products.
“The Competition Tribunal has confirmed 30 consent orders in favour of the Competition Commission which has resulted in settlements for fines, donations to Solidarity Fund and to other organisations, refunds to customers and immediate price decreases on essential goods.”
In introductory remarks to the meeting, the department’s Director General, Lionel October, declared that the overriding objective of government efforts in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has been to preserve South Africa’s industrial base.
In a statement, the portfolio committee on trade and industry highlighted that it was informed that South Africa was “unlikely to experience a shortage of ventilators should the country experience a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
This is due to the local manufacturing of ventilators.
“The committee heard that about 2 000 ventilators have so far been produced and the production of more ventilators is continuing through funding of the Solidarity Fund.”
The committee chairperson, Duma Nkosi, said the committee “would further like to engage on the impact of funding provided to businesses in order to revive the economy, and broaden access to funding to support businesses in all provinces and not to a select few provinces, and ensure the proper use of the funding channelled towards targeted interventions, and to monitor the impact of support on these objectives”.
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