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South African finance ministry action plan to help revive economy

by Stanley Karombo JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba unveiled an action plan on Thursday for reviving the economy with sound timelines and framework.

The plan outlines the Treasury’s intention to reduce government guarantees for operational reasons and will provide the power utility Eskom with assistance.

In an attempt to pull out of the technical recession, the minister said, the plan intends to sell noncore government assets and partial privatization of government and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

"Government has been deeply engaged with the issue of low economic growth and the recession, analyzing its impact on social welfare, and considering an appropriate response," Gigaba said at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in Sandton.

The country still faces challenges ahead and South Africans need to tighten their belts, Gigaba said.

The World Bank expects the South African economy to grow by 0.6 percent this year, cutting its January projection by 0.5 percentage point.

The current economic growth, the minister said, was so low to address the triple challenges of high inequality, unemployment and poverty.

Gigaba said robust steps need to be taken to achieve radical economic transformation and create more jobs.

The SOEs targeted in the plan include the power utility Eskom, South Africa Airways and telecommunications firms.

Others areas to be addressed in the plan include Postbank’s licensing enquiry, the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill, the broad-based socioeconomic empowerment charter for the South African mining industry and the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill.

The minister lauded South African president Jacob Zuma for his meeting with ministers in June where the latter urged for a coordinated response related to the government’s nine-point plan.

"These interventions are the beginning of a response program that will be unpacked in the MTBPS (medium-term budget policy statement) and the 2018 budget," Gigaba said.

Gigaba also cautioned that South Africa faces tough budget decisions in 2017 as the country has entered its first technical recession since 2009.

The minister also noted the external pressures to the country’s economic growth, including the marked increase in global policy uncertainty as well as rising rhetoric suggesting more inward-looking trade policies, he said.


South Africa hosts international film festival to lure producers

CAPE TOWN South Africa(Xinhua) -- The 38th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) kicked off on Thursday with the aim of luring more film producers to South Africa.

The DIFF, which will last till July 23, is an annual film festival held in the coustal city of Durban and one of the oldest and largest film festivals in southern Africa.

In a congratulatory message, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said his department was participating in the DIFF which "is one of the best platforms a country can promote and showcase the country’s creative skills."

The SA Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was fundingd workshops, dialogues and screening of productions in support of the festival.

Davies said the platform will be used to market the department’s South African Emerging Black Filmmakers Incentive and target producers who qualify.

The incentive includes a rebate of up to 50 percent for the first 6 million rand (about 450,000 U.S. dollars) of the Qualifying South African Production Expenditure (QSAPE) and 25 percent thereafter. No cap is applicable for this rebate.

"The incentive objective is still to create an environment that take advantage of the country’s diverse and unique locations as well as low production costs and favorable exchange rates, which makes it significantly more cost-effective to produce a movie in South Africa than in Europe, the United States or Australia," said Davies.

The film industry has enormous potential in bringing the necessary currency into the economy and can act as an important vehicle through which technology is transferred and South African skills base is upgraded, the minister said.

The SA government spent 468 million rand with projected investment of 3.4 billion rand in the 2015/2016 financial year supporting the sector.

Productions to be screened during the festival include: The Wound, Hard To Get, Double Echo, Hope, The Killing Floor, The Whale Caller, Winnie, Vaya, The Most Beautiful Day, Catching Feelings, Mhlola and Asinamali.



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