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Numsa urges govt to procure from locals

Nov 01 2012 16:20

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Johannesburg - The government should drive economic growth by procuring from local manufacturers instead of importing goods, Numsa said on Thursday.

"We have manufacturing capacity in this country and we believe that aggressive economic stimulation is important to fight poverty and unemployment," said the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

It was reacting to reports that a consortium led by a Chinese manufacturer had been announced as the successful bidder to supply 95 dual-electric locomotives to Transnet.

The parastatal would reportedly procure 1 064 locomotives through a R300bn investment capital programme.

The programme formed part of government's R4 trillion infrastructure roll-out plan led by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission.

Numsa secretary general Irvin Jim said the Chinese company had been chosen over a local manufacturer which designed and manufactured locomotives and coaches.

"We will not let this matter just go away. We are going to ensure that at least 60% of that investment is spent locally."

The awarding of the contract to a foreign company undermined the government's procurement plans and would harm the economy, leading to job losses, he said.

"The failure of [Finance Minister] Pravin Gordhan to pronounce on this scandalous behaviour, which may lead to job losses, is unforgivable."

Jim accused Gordhan trying to please international rating agencies with his 2012 medium-term budget.

"Gordhan's budget is at pains to assure the agencies that government will cut spending, despite the glaring social crisis we face," he said.

Gordhan had spent most of his time arguing that South Africa was financially sound and that it was wrong for the rating agencies to downgrade the country.

"We find this characterisation of the country by Gordhan thoroughly worker insensitive and horribly wrong."

Jim said Gordhan's budget failed to address the demands of the working class.

"We were expecting the budget to focus on announcing measures that would clearly show that the ANC, at 100 years, can and is responding to the multi-layered crisis our economy and society faces."

He accused the Treasury of having become the centre of power in the country.

"The presidency takes its cue from the Treasury regarding what is best for the country."

The budget was weak on issues of procurement and local production, despite the Treasury's plan to implement rigorous procurement reforms, Jim said.


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