Ramaphosa: We are prioritising immigration reform to attract skilled foreigners

2019-10-14 09:07 - Compiled by Lameez Omarjee
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media duri
President Cyril Ramaphosa (GCIS)

The government has prioritised immigration reform to attract skilled workers to the country, president Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed in his latest newsletter, released on Monday morning.

This has been an important part of finance minister Tito Mboweni's growth plan, which proposed friendlier immigration regulations for foreigners with tertiary qualifications from accredited institutions.

In order to attract investment that will boost the SA economy, government is also working on improving business conditions through reforms such as an e-visa process and an electronic deeds registry system, Ramaphosa said in the newsletter.

He stressed the importance of attracting foreign direct investment and he shared government's plans to improve the ease of doing business in the country. The president is currently in London, where he will be addressing the Financial Times Africa Summit 2019 – a gathering of business people and investors.

Ramaphosa highlighted government's aim to make SA the "destination of choice" for foreign direct investment.

He explained that growing the economy requires more investment – from both local and international businesses. "We are using every available opportunity to reach out to investors to talk about the great business potential both in South Africa and across the African continent," he said.

"To attract investment we need to make it easier to do business in South Africa. In a competitive global environment, investors are looking for countries that can provide stable and sustained returns, while minimising risks and cost," he added.

In November, the second SA investment Conference will be held – as part of the plan to attract R1.2trn over five years. Last year the summit raised R300bn in committed investment. "We know that we need far-reaching reforms to achieve our target," Ramaphosa commented.

As for the reforms being introduced - they include helping start-ups or entrepreneurs set up their businesses by making it easier to access funding through the use of a common application form across different development funding institutions. "We are working to make business easier for both the person starting out in their garage and for the multinational looking to open a new factory," Ramaphosa said.

The president also recently signed into law the Electronic Deeds Registration System Act – which will make it easier to register and process deeds.

"We are making it easier to start a business, register a property, deal with construction permits, pay taxes and trade across borders.

"To promote greater efficiency, we are reducing the time it takes to grant licences and permits. We are working with business to ensure that the conditions attached to licences are not too onerous or costly," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa added that he meets with leaders in business, labour and communities monthly to discuss how to make the SA economy more competitive.

"These measures are important not only to business, which is seeking decent returns on investment, but also to unions, who want more jobs and better working conditions, and to communities, who want to see living standards rise," Ramaphosa said.

As he concluded his newsletter, he gave his assurance that SA is "steadily" becoming a better place to do business. The World Economic Forum recently ranked SA 60th among 141 economies, in terms of global competitiveness. SA has climbed seven places from its previous ranking and even surpassed India's ranking of 68, Fin24 previously reported. Ramaphosa commented that this is a "noteworthy" achievement within a "relatively short period of time".