Latest EC budget to stimulate province’s competitiveness, support local businesses

The Eastern Cape Government will ramp up efforts in the coming year to improve infrastructure development and maintenance, and improved transport logistics said Treasury MEC Sakhumzi Somyo at the announcement of the latest provincial budget.

Talking from the provincial legislature in Bhisho, Somyo said this was key to improving the province’s regional competitiveness and reducing the cost of doing business in the Eastern Cape.

“This,” he added, ”would assist with investment and the re-industrialisation of the province, reaffirming the Eastern Cape Development Corporation’s role to drive and secure critical investments as a contribution to transforming the provincial economy”.

Maintenance of provincial roads will be boosted with a R1.289 billion investment and will grow almost three fold to R4.017 billion over the MTEF. The prioritised roads are those that lead to agricultural production and tourism sites, amongst others.

The SMME and cooperatives have also been singled out for increased support with R40.728 million allocated to support SMME development.

Provincial government has targeted up to 50% of their R14 billion public sector for local businesses.

Somyo said “this offers a solid base for the public procurement to be used as a transformation tool and a catalyst for enterprise development.” 

He also highlighted the role of renewable energy in stimulating the economy, saying that the country’s power supply challenges was an opportunity for more public and private sector investment.

“For example, as provincial government, we are making resources available to support research in multi-trillion shale gas sector which we aim to exploit for our people,” he explained.

Now featuring in the National Treasury Budget Review, PetroSA’s Project Mthombo at Coega which is expected to produce 300,000 barrels per day oil refinery, and the manganese rail and terminal, which will include upgrades to the rail system, port and terminal in order ready the province for manganese exports. 

He was also upbeat about exploring the ocean economy, particularly as the province was home to 800 kilometres of coast line. The East London IDZ is a key role player in the realisation of this goal.  

There were also plans to increase the level of manufactured exports, particularly from labour intensive industries. 

“The province is well positioned to drive export-oriented growth owing to its industrial development zones. The Coega and East London IDZ’s transition to special economic zones will help to further drive growth and employment in the regional economy. A third SEZ on the Wild Coast region is already in its pre-feasibility stage. This will facilitate development on the Eastern side of the province,” he ended.