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Empowerment still one of govt's priorities - Mbeki

12th November 2003

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Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is still one of government's priorities with the aim of ending racial disparities in the economy and to address poverty and underdevelopment in the country. This according to President Thabo Mbeki during his annual address to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today. President Mbeki told MPs that government had availed "significant sums of money" to ensure that BEE initiatives and ventures received the necessary financial support for an equal stake in the economy. "This also relates to the important issue of black economic empowerment, which remains one of the priorities of our government, both to end the racial disparities in our economy and society and to address the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment. "Government has also made significant sums of money available for this empowerment. The state corporations are also important partners in this regard," said President Mbeki.

The President was referring to institutions such as Khula Finance that supports small business, the National Empowerment Fund that has about R10 billion to finance BEE ventures, and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) which remains in the forefront to financing BEE deals. President Mbeki said the adoption of the BEE Bill would go a long way in expediting the process of empowerment particularly after government met with black business during its two-day Black Business Working group Indaba in September.

He said the indaba emphasised the need for government to continue to interact with a number of stakeholders to ensure that empowerment became broad-based. President Mbeki said the government's macro-economic policies and micro-economic interventions had put public finances and what he called the "First Economy", which was modern and produced the bulk of country's wealth, into a better position than in 1994. These improvements, he said, had helped to generate resources needed to address the challenges facing the "Second Economy" characterised by underdevelopment and incorporated the poorest majority of the country. "However, as indicated in the Ten Year Review, the numbers of those joining the labour market has grown at a faster rate. Demographic changes, such as more women entering the labour market, have also intensified the need for our economy and society to create more jobs.

"Our macro-economic policies and micro-economic interventions have helped to place our public finances and the First Economy on a radically better footing than they were in 1994". He said these improvements had helped to generate the resources needed to address the challenges of the "Second Economy".

"This also means that we must persist in our work to ensure the further growth and development and modernisation of the First Economy, including its capacity to absorb larger numbers of work-seekers". – BuaNews.
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