Pravin Gordhan delivers his speech. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Pravin Gordhan delivers his speech. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

BUSINESS leaders came out in strong support on Wednesday of government initiatives to grow the economy, ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget vote speech in Parliament.

They committed themselves to working closely with the government and labour, to help accelerate economic growth and job creation and strengthen public finances.

Business Unity SA president Jabu Mabuza — speaking on behalf of the CEOs who had met President Jacob Zuma and Mr Gordhan in the past few weeks — announced that major companies would contribute their expertise and invest in initiatives to avoid a credit rating downgrade.

The business initiatives would also include contributing to the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and investing in key economic sectors.

Business, together with the government, has committed itself to supporting the creation of a single vehicle, which will co-invest in SMEs with existing enterprise development funds run by the private sector.

It has also offered private-sector expertise to the boards of state-owned enterprises to help reduce their drain on the fiscus. Business also wants to participate in public-private partnerships, play an active role in the review of regulatory blockages and participate in the fight against corruption.

Standard Bank joint-CEO Sim Tshabalala and Public Investment Corporation CEO Dan Matjila said business would work with the government and labour to identify a core set of priority economic sectors and enterprises.

"For each sector selected, we will contribute private-sector expertise to help create an urgent, detailed plan to remove barriers to growth, protect existing jobs, and drive inclusive growth as fast as possible," they said.

The sectors identified would include those made vulnerable during current market turbulence as well as those that could unlock new growth.