Growth is essential for reducing inequality and unemployment. Growth in a Time of Uncertainty brought together experts to focus on the key question: does South Africa have a growth strategy?
Between 2003 and 2008, when annual growth averaged over 5%, the country saw rising levels of employment, 2 million net new jobs were created, or about 1 000 new jobs a day. The result was that the rate of unemployment fell by 6% and incomes rose for many. In addition, increased tax revenues allowed government to expand the social safety net, with the number of people receiving social grants rising from under 6 million in 2003 to over 12 million in 2008.
Yet South Africa’s attitude to growth has been ambiguous and ambivalent. Government has repeatedly proclaimed a desire to see the economy grow more quickly but has emphasised policy initiatives that undermine
South Africa’s increasing budget deficit, low levels of investment and a serious labour market crisis, reinforces the key point: for South Africa to create large numbers of jobs, the economy has to grow quickly.
The country needs to move beyond its present impasse and make the “tough choices” to enable labour intensive growth.