Pravin Gordhan. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Pravin Gordhan. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

WITH the focus now firmly on Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget next week, a select number of business leaders met with Mr Gordhan on Monday again to discuss measures to stave off a downgrade and boost economic growth.

Monday’s discussions reflected on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, its implications, and the work that needed to be done by business working groups and the government.

Efforts are being made to include labour in the working groups.

"This was more about reflecting on the state of the nation address and the fact that this address had a lot of economic issues. This indicates government is working with business," one leader said.

At two high-level meetings — first with Mr Gordhan and then last week with Mr Zuma — business outlined its concerns about the economy and potential measures to rectify them.

Business has said some tax increases would be palatable, while the government has agreed to look into the sale of state assets as part of an eight-point plan aimed at holding off a rating downgrade in the short term and resuscitating the economy in the long term.

Three working groups — on ratings, an entrepreneurship fund, and investment — were set up and Monday’s meeting was with representatives of the subgroups.

The business leader said plans were being put together to deal with the challenges identified so as "to stimulate economic growth and make sure it benefits everyone". Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda confirmed the meeting, saying, "The minister discussed with the CEOs various streams of work and collaboration and there’ll be further discussions in the near future."

Though Mr Zuma has acknowledged SA’s economic problems, analysts said much depended on the details in Mr Gordhan’s budget.

Kristin Lindow, a senior vice-president and lead sovereign analyst for SA at Moody’s rating agency said on Friday that while Mr Zuma’s speech acknowledged the economic challenges and hinted at budget savings "the markets’ attention in the short term will turn to the budget and whether the measures announced will succeed in steadying confidence".