Ramaphosa urges new council to work quickly on rescuing struggling SA state firms, Newsline

JOHANNESBURG – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wants a council he appointed in June to work quickly towards repositioning struggling state-owned enterprises as effective instruments of economic transformation and development, his office said late on Thursday.

The Presidential State-owned Enterprises Council (PSEC) is one of several task teams Ramaphosa has appointed since coming to power in 2018 to work towards kickstarting a stalled economy hurt in part by rampant corruption and, this year, the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement after Ramaphosa met the council on Thursday, the Presidency said he called on it to work with haste to ensure “prioritisation of those SOEs which can have a greater impact on the economy, mobilisation of private capital and increased operational efficiencies in support of improved national output”.

The council, led by Deputy President David Mabuza and comprising cabinet ministers as well as prominent people from the business community, labour and academia, needs to identify measures necessary to stabilise and strengthen state firms’ financial and operational performances and reduce their reliance on government funding.

Such firms includes national carrier South African Airways, which went under business administration last December. Last month, finance minister was forced to set aside R10.5 billion (US$667.4 billion) in the budget towards implementing a business plan for the airline.

State power utility Eskom has also been on the ropes for years, and has struggled to meet electricity demand due to frequent breakdowns in its ageing generation infrastructure.

“The council resolved to set up work streams in response to the areas of priority identified, to commence work immediately, and report back to the president by January 2021 when the next meeting is expected to be convened,” Ramaphosa’s office said.

Ramaphosa urged the council to execute its mandate in line with an economic recovery plan unveiled in October, the Presidency added.

African News Agency (ANA)