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Prasheen Maharaj - Durban chamber post SONA outlook

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Electricity Crisis Load shedding is placing added pressure on businesses and the overall economy. Against this backdrop, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomes the President’s decision declaring a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects.


Whilst this is the step in the right direction, we believe there should be accountability and transparency throughout the process. It is times like these that stir up corruption and mismanagement. Therefore, we need a clear rollout plan and timeline when the time comes, and this is non-negotiable.


Not only so, we also recognise that with the state of disaster declaration for the electricity crisis comes with some relief for the business community and lives of the people. Through the enablement of exemption from loadshedding of critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants. While we also welcome the appointment of a Minister of Electricity, we must ensure that it doesn’t cause confusion between the new Minister, the Minister of Minerals and Energy and the Minister of Public Enterprises.


Prasheen Maharaj - Durban chamber post SONA outlook
Prasheen Maharaj - Durban chamber post SONA outlook

We need ONE accountable Minister so that we don’t end up with a decision-making paralysis situation. We already witness turf wars between Minerals and Energy and Public Enterprises. The new Ministry might just exacerbate the situation. We also look forward to the implementation of National Treasury’s ‘Bounce back loan scheme’ which is set to assist small businesses to invest in solar equipment, we need to see the implementation plan and rollout, many of our small businesses have been severely impacted by load shedding, to a point of having their businesses and products destroyed.


We also welcome the rollout of rooftop solar panels. We believe this will help ease the electricity burden. As private sector we want to reiterate that we are willing to support (through skills and other measures) and work with public sector to restore our country’s infrastructure and economy. As organised business, we need clarity on how businesses will be able to benefit from a tax incentive.


Rail Network

Addressing the challenges and operational inefficiencies at the ports is a major step towards improving South Africa’s export competitiveness. We are optimistic that reforming the rail network will yield positive economic spin-offs for the local economy. The rail network is considered to offer several benefits to the City and South Africa in the future. As organised business we remain committed to working with Transnet and government to help ensure our rail network is fully operational.


Infrastructure

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry is deeply concerned about Durban’s water and sanitation crisis. Damaged water infrastructure, sewage leaks and the ongoing closure of Durban’s beaches are creating a poor perception of Durban. While efforts by government are appreciated and the Chamber and its members lend a hand, the internal systems of government have not been helpful.


We believe this SONA lacked an infrastructure investment plan with timelines and resource commitments to restore critical infrastructure, for example the infrastructure in the South of Durban requires urgent intervention.


SMMEs

We look forward to the finalised amendments to the Businesses Act to reduce regulatory impediments for SMMEs and co-operative. As organised business we believe we need prioritise the ease of doing business. SMMEs play a critical role in the economy. We need to continuously create mechanisms and programmes to support SMME businesses.

For more info, contact the Durban Chamber on +27 (0)31 335 1000 or info@durbanchamber.co.za

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