Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers, colleagues and parliamentary compatriots, and ladies and gentlemen, let me start by commending the two Ministers for their sterling speeches and the clear manner in which they were able to put forward the mandates of their departments. I want to say to you, Ministers, that you really give hope to us as a country. Let me, in the same breath, congratulate you and your deputies on the appointments.
Chairperson, among the five-year strategic focus areas for the African National Congress are accelerated growth and investment, improving the productive capacity of government, integrating the economy and redistributing resources more equitably. This obviously calls for a stricter, more coherent and organised way of doing things, hence the idea of setting up the Department of Economic Development, whose responsibility will mainly be to deal with that, over and above other things.
I would like to agree with Minister Davies on his endeavours to strengthen the industrial policy action plan, with the intention to focus more on harder economic interventions, as against the previously very soft intervention. Our country, looking at its macroeconomic environment, needs strengthening in the areas of research and development, improvement in skills development capacity and a monitoring and evaluation system.
I want to thank the President for ensuring that he sets up the two departments, especially that of monitoring and evaluation, as well as planning. They are quite critical, especially in these areas or in these times of hardship.
This, I feel, will help the country in strengthening industries that have the potential to retain jobs en masse. Of course, here I would like to emphasise that more jobs doesn't just mean jobs, but jobs that are qualitative in nature whilst, at the same time, improving the production base, which will, in turn, turn around the economic performance of our country and the region at large.
I feel that we need to focus on the areas that need special attention and that will have a high impact, especially those around the macroeconomic environment. We need to eliminate duplication and focus more on co- ordination and co-operation, as well as integration where possible, in order to achieve high impact and outcomes. I'm just emphasising what the two hon Ministers have indicated.
I'd like to emphasise the role, in this regard, of our provinces and municipalities, because for you to be able to do your work effectively, there has to be that kind of relationship and change of mind in as far as our provinces and municipalities are concerned.
I would like to commend the work of Deputy Minister Ntuli while dealing with this matter of embarking on consultative meetings with the provinces on economic matters in general. I believe that it is a step in the right direction in terms of trying to understand what each sphere of government is doing, so that the department could develop an informed response strategy.
Madam Deputy Minister, I take it that the intention of your consultative meetings is to have a hands-on response in the midst of all these microeconomic challenges confronting the country.
The areas affecting the microeconomic environment that I believe are in need of urgent attention are those around the target groups training, as well as coaching and mentorship programmes that are currently being attended to under Seda and I want to agree with Mr Van der Westhuizen that the budget really needs to be upped. And while you are upping the budget, of course, these Sedas need to be monitored and evaluated on a continuous basis so that their work can be strengthened from time to time.
I would also call upon the IDC to really do their work. I am saying this especially because of the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency and the women's fund, because they will really need that critical assistance and support. This kind of support is necessary in nurturing and improving the existing businesses, with specific focus on the target groups.
I will then appeal to the department to consider through the IDC, as I indicated, the topping-up of Seda's budget if we want to see them making a meaningful impact, especially around our youth, women and people living with disabilities.
We, however, want to emphasise and stress the importance of monitoring the programme if we really want it to yield positive results. I hope the relevant Ministry will ensure that the monitoring mechanisms are put in place to ensure compliance with the set targets so that required outcomes are realised.
Let me borrow the words of one world leader who said:
Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.
I believe that if each one of us holds together, we will be able to achieve greatly. That is why we support the implementation of the framework agreement which, in our belief, will put a bright spark into our macroeconomic situation.
The committee would like to thank both departments for putting their mandates so clearly and eloquently. We would also like to take into account the status of the Department of Economic Development and its plans to establish the department within the next three to four months and to have strategic planning documents by the end of September.
We would appreciate it if the department can brief both the committees on economic development and on trade and industry on a continuous basis, especially on progress made so that we can be informed and able to assist where possible.
Chairperson, we support Vote No 32 and the committee's recommendations. You will be surprised at why I am saying this, but we have jointly looked at this Budget Vote. In the same light, I would like to wish the two Ministries well in their endeavours. I thank you. [Applause.]