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Manuel: Ask not only what govt can do

Nov 07 2013 20:49
Carin Smith
Cape Town - The National Planning Commission is not government, according to Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency: national planning commission.

He was the guest speaker at the annual general meeting of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"While I am a member of cabinet, the commission is made up of 25 commissioners drawn from outside of government and our role is advisory," Manuel said.

"We are not government but we are not an NGO either nor are we an independent think-tank. We occupy a position relative to government with a strong ability to persuade both government and society. This is an important aspect of the commission that we should not lose sight of."

He said the perspective of the NPC allows it to take a view of the policy environment with the aim of developing a comprehensive picture by improving links between disparate or contradictory aspects.

"The commission is in the fortunate position where it is not constrained by the divisions that define the way in which government is structured or in the way that it operates," said Manuel.

"It was able to take a broad view of society in order to ask questions differently. Are the actions appropriate to the circumstances? How can the life circumstances of people be improved upon? What risks are we prepared to take in pursuit of these objectives?"

He said it is not simply about asking what government will do, but about ensuring that society's responsibilities are not outsourced.

Unemployment

"It is not possible to raise the quality of life of each citizen as the constitution requires of us with unemployment levels where they are," said Manuel.

"The challenge that the National Development Plan identifies is that we need to nearly double jobs by 2030 by adding 11 million jobs to the economy to reach 24 million. Per capita income should rise from about R50 000 per person to about R120 000, but be distributed more evenly across the population."

The economy would have to expand to almost three times the present level with GDP levels growing from R3trn to R9trn over this period.

"We must also begin to grow the number of enterprises in a far more intensive manner," he said.

"The commission, along with the rest of the country had a serious wake-up call when we learnt about the events at Marikana. It may be worth reminding members here today that the tragedy took place less than twenty four hours after we handed the National Development Plan to the President in parliament on August 15 2012."

He called on the business people to take a leading role in society as active citizens.

"We have all embarked on this journey of building our country together and it is your responsibility as much as it is the government’s to ensure that we reach our objectives," he said.

- Fin24

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