Moving towards a million new direct jobs in manufacturing in a decade
In many respects, SA appears to be at a tipping point. Record levels of unemployment, rising poverty levels, increasing political uncertainty and the large-scale diversion of resources away from inclusive growth to the beneficiaries of state capture have created an environment in which investors are understandably cautious, and are rather seeking investment opportunities abroad. If we continue on our current low road, the prospect of an IMF intervention beckons, with the associated loss of sovereignty in determining our own economic future. Against this backdrop, we run the risk of a toxic cocktail of continued further de-industrialisation and job losses.
Investor confidence cannot, however, be legislated by fiat. For investors to open new factories and employ more workers, they need to know that there will be demand for their products, and that they will be able to operate in a stable political, economic and fiscal environment.
As a nation, there has never been a greater need to coalesce around two complementary objectives: inclusive economic growth and job creation. Of all the sectors in the economy, manufacturing offers the greatest opportunity to deliver both. The Manufacturing Circle believes that the proposals made in this document are eminently doable. We do not require the equivalent of a moonshot; we need simple and effective interventions in how business, government and labour work together to grease the cogs of industry. Our proposals are modest, and can be achieved with ease if the necessary political will is applied. Our proposals are not costly to the fiscus: on the contrary, the additional tax revenue from a million new jobs will far exceed the cost of extending modest incentives to manufacturers.
We submit our proposals to our fellow manufacturers, to ministers and administrators, to regulators and policy writers, to labour and to business, but also to the public at large. If we succeed in catalysing a debate on how to grow the economy, and put more people to work, we will have achieved the first step on the road towards creating a million new jobs in manufacturing.