South Africa faces the challenge of how to use its 5% economic growth in ways that everyone, especially the poor, will benefit, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said on Thursday.
Speaking at the launch of the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s annual report, Manuel said indications are that the South African economy will continue expanding in the coming years, as spending on infrastructure gains momentum and other measures address constraints on growth.
He said the challenge is to translate this growth into ways to benefit everyone in the country — but especially the poor.
“We are the first generation with the knowledge, awareness and resources to eradicate poverty, yet every day we learn that achieving this is far more complex than merely possessing the political will and resources to do so.”
The government’s aim of pursuing economic growth is more than just the growth itself.
“We pursue faster economic growth because it provides people with work opportunities, it provides people with higher incomes to buy or build homes, acquire furniture, contribute towards their children’s education, consume water and electricity and generally improve their quality of life,” Manuel said.
“Broad improvements in human welfare will not occur unless poor people receive wider access to affordable, better quality services in health, education, water, sanitation and electricity,” he said.
Without such improvements in services, freedom from illness and freedom from illiteracy — two of the most important ways poor people can escape poverty — will remain elusive to many. — Sapa