President Jacob Zuma delivers his state of the nation address at the opening of Parliament in 2012. Picture: THE TIMES
President Jacob Zuma delivers his state of the nation address at the opening of Parliament in 2012. Picture: THE TIMES

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address should encourage business to create new jobs, and should outline how the government will make it easier for businesses to do so, says the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s president, Fred Jacobs.

The address, which marks the official opening of Parliament, is due to be delivered by Mr Zuma on Thursday evening.

Mr Jacobs said unemployment was the country’s most urgent problem and something dramatic needed to be done to bring more people into the work place.

"Last month we lost 51,495 jobs and most of those were permanent jobs. We know there are good plans to boost employment through infrastructure projects, but it will be some time before the real work starts. We would like details on the youth wage subsidy scheme and when it will be introduced."

Mr Jacobs said the past few months of strikes and demands for unaffordable wage increases had had a depressing effect on business.

"We (the Chamber) are looking to the government for support and understanding of the role business plays in growing the economy and creating the wealth of the country and the jobs."

Further, it was essential that the president deal with the Eskom problem.

"Five 16% tariff increases will have a drastic effect on the economy," Mr Jacobs said.

He said the effect of these increases, should they be approved, would lead to factories closing, new projects being shelved and thousands of people losing their jobs.

"This message has been spelt out loud and clear at the Nersa (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) public hearings, but a response is now awaited from the government, the sole shareholder in Eskom."

Mr Jacobs said there was broad support for the National Development plan, however, business would like details on how it would be implemented and when.

Part of the plan includes the easing of labour laws to lower the risk of hiring young workers. The plan also stipulates that the State must professionalise the public service, strengthen accountability and prosecute those guilty of corruption.

"We hope President Zuma will provide some details on how these goals are to be achieved," Mr Jacobs said.