Opening Remarks by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the South Africa-China State Owned Enterprises Seminar: Beijing, China, 15 July 2015
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers, His Excellency Mr Zhang Yi, Chairman of SASAC, Senior officials from the South African delegation, Senior Officials from the Chinese Government and SASAC delegation, Executives from South African and Chinese state-owned enterprises, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my delegation, our Government, and the people of South Africa, I convey my sincere appreciation to the Chairman of SASAC for making time to meet with us.
We are honoured too that the Chairman is accompanied to this historic engagement by senior officials from SASAC and Chinese state owned enterprises.
Our engagement today is an opportunity for us to learn, gain experience and understand the challenges and successes of the Chinese SOE model.
We are here to learn about best practice in the management of SOEs.
We are keen to find out more about the institutional arrangements and financial models that ensure that SOEs are sustainable and deliver on their mandate to accelerate economic growth and transformation
We would also like to know about frameworks for private sector participation in the SOEs to augment the capacity of the state.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The state of the South African economy requires that we implement a wide range of interventions to achieve a different growth trajectory.
Such growth must be informed by better developmental outcomes.
At the centre of this is the reindustrialisation of the South African economy supported by a comprehensive infrastructure development programme.
As a developmental state, the execution of the infrastructure development programme is dependent on the capacity of our SOEs.
The last five years has seen an increased role for SOEs in the economy.
Over the next five years, government has ambitious plans to change the structure of the South African economy.
The National Development Plan, which provides an overarching framework for social and economic progress to 2030, recognises the need for continued state participation in the economy.
In February 2015, in his State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma announced a Nine Point Plan, which outlines key interventions to re-ignite the South Africa economy.
The plan recognises that our government, in partnership with the private sector, needs to play a stronger role to create a conducive environment for sustained growth.
This places further demands on our state-owned enterprises.
Many of these SOEs are confronting challenges that impact on their ability to support the execution of government policy.
We are therefore embarking on a programme to strengthen SOEs.
We seek to enhance the overall competitiveness of the economy and support South Africa’s industrialisation programme.
A new shareholder policy is being developed to ensure that the current portfolio is fit for purpose.
Development of legislation to codify the participation of the state as a shareholder is also underway.
We are aware that the People’s Republic of China has successfully undergone similar processes and managed to refocus its SOE portfolio to be at the forefront of its development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The South African Department of Public Enterprises and SASAC share similar functions of shareholder oversight.
Numerous visits have taken place at different levels and there have been good exchanges between officials and leaders from the two organisations.
We have agreed to share practical experiences on SOE reform, and to promote reciprocal partnerships and co-development of SOEs in the two countries.
In December 2013, a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Public Enterprises and SASAC was signed in an effort to give further impetus to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The memorandum affirmed the central role performed by SOEs as key instruments of economic advancement.
It acknowledges that through SOEs we can implement transformative interventions to accelerate development, integration and industrialisation.
State-owned enterprises are a critical agent in national poverty reduction plans and in improving access to basic services.
Through them, we are able to provide infrastructure, skills development and new employment opportunities.
This relationship between the Department of Public Enterprises and SASAC enables us to share information on shareholder management practices, tools and governance frameworks.
In working side by side with us in forging a capable developmental state, creating work and developing skills, China has become an invaluable companion in the national effort to bring hope and restore dignity to millions of our people.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY
15 July 2015