November 19, 2004

We have achieved moderate growth, says Finance Minister

South Africa has earned an enviable reputation for sound fiscal management and a progressive notch in the financial markets, says Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. "We have achieved moderate growth of the economy and there is encouraging evidence of acceleration in the pace of job creation," he explained. The minister however pointed out that challenges ahead were formidable and more complex when compared to achievements. "For the decade ahead, the foundations will remain in place - an open economy, competitive markets, sustainable deficit, broad-based tax structure, spending plans informed by transparent social and economic policies," the Minister stressed. Amongst other things, he said that South Africa was facing a challenge of reconstructing the urban landscape. Because of the dynamics of urban growth and how cities developed over time, urban landscape was important for the efficiency and competitiveness of economies, as well as the quality of ordinary people's lives, Manuel emphasised. According to him, there were immense investments required to make an integrated urban landscape a reality, including public infrastructure requirements such as transport, water and sanitation.

The minister also reflected on the country's social security system, considered one of the largest non-contributory income redistribution programmes in both developed and developing world. The social assurance system amounts to 4.5 percent of the GDP. He also said that the country was currently stepping up its expenditure on social security partly to meet continued growth in numbers of child support, disability and foster care grants beneficiaries. "Over the longer term, we need to give careful consideration to the evolution of the social assurance system." he said. (Bua News, Pretoria)

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