11 June 2003
Cabinet today welcomed the outcome of the Growth and Development Summit, and congratulated all the sectors represented in National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) for the manner in which the issues on the agenda were dealt with. The GDS agreement, which identified many concrete activities to help speed up the rate of investment and job-creation, is an important milestone in creating national consensus among South Africans on the critical challenges of economic growth and development.
Government reiterates its commitment to the decisions of the GDS, and it will, as a matter of urgency, attend to the practical issues to ensure the realisation of the objectives of the Summit. It is the conviction of government that a critical step has been taken by our country on the road to a People's Contract for Growth and Development.
Cabinet approved the International Tourism Growth Strategy, which includes an analysis of core markets and their segments as well as broad proposals on such matters as air travel, marketing strategy, visa arrangements, security and local transport infrastructure. The implementation of the strategy will further raise the importance of tourism as a critical economic growth driver and source of new employment opportunities.
The meeting agreed in principle to work with the government of the Republic of Mozambique in the preparations for the Second African Union Heads of State and Government Conference. This will include providing logistical assistance where such may be required. The meeting also endorsed a proposal to move towards implementation of the Northern Mozambique Power Development Initiative, which encompasses such projects as maximising the value of Cahora Bassa (South) and assisting Mozambique to realise the potential of its significant hydro- and other energy resources. This will benefit the people of Mozambique and South Africa.
Cabinet was informed of, and welcomed, the outcome of negotiations in the Public Service Bargaining Chamber, where agreement has been reached on an 8,5% wage increase as well as a 1% increment pertaining to pay progression. The fact that this was attained without any conflict confirms the improving labour relations in the public sector, and affords both government as employer and the public servants the opportunity to focus on their core mandate: to provide better services to the citizens.
Having examined the constitutional and legislative requirements for the national and provincial elections in 2004, Cabinet resolved that an Act of Parliament be processed urgently by the Departments of Home Affairs and Justice and Constitutional Development. Such legislation would not require any constitutional amendment, and will be finalised for adoption during the 2003 Parliamentary session.
Cabinet was briefed on the outcome of the Review of the Financing, Resourcing and Costs of Education in Public Schools. The meeting agreed with the proposed strategy of ensuring, among others, that children from poor families are treated the same way in all parts of the country, that a reasonable trade-off be made between perceived quality choice and cost-free access, and that any system introduced should avoid a negative impact on "middle class and non-poor" sectors.
The Plan of Action to implement the strategy was accepted in principle. During the next financial year, systems will be put in place to phase in the plan, starting with the poorest 20% of learners.
The meeting received a report on the outcome of the HIV and AIDS Mining Summit which was held on 30 April 2003. The purpose of the Summit was to strengthen partnerships between government, business and labour and to share experiences in the context of the 5-Year National Strategic Plan.
The Summit reached agreements on voluntary testing and counselling, continuing care for those living with HIV and AIDS including healthy diets and Antiretroviral Treatment, collaboration in monitoring extended usage of ARV's and traditional as well as natural medicines, and the need to improve the standard of housing for mine workers. A Tripartite HIV and AIDS Committee is working on transforming the Declaration of Intent into an action plan with specific targets and timelines.
Cabinet approved a programme to mark the 90th anniversary of the Native (Black) Land Act of 1913 during the month of June. This will include activities around the Land Restitution Programme with the formalisation, during this month, of 9 land restitution transfers in 6 provinces.
The meeting noted the work being done by the Department of Housing to finalise a draft of a Community Reinvestment Act which is meant to afford low-income earners access to home loan mortgages in a sustainable way. The Bill has not served before Cabinet yet, and the principle underpinning its approach would be one of partnership between government, financial institutions and other stakeholders. The meeting noted the consultations that have already been held with stakeholders, and the fact that further hearings would be held in Parliament once the Bill has been approved by Cabinet.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)