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Stay calm and carry on, Gordhan tells SA

South Africans should not worry too much about bad news from the World Economic Forum’s 2012 meeting in Davos-Klosters in Switzerland, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

“South Africans should not worry too much about the outlook, but ask what they should do,” Gordhan said via video link from Davos-Klosters to the Gordon Institute of Business in Johannesburg.

“Can we have a conversation in South Africa … What can we do in these circumstances? What are our strengths? Being part of Africa is a huge strength, how can we grow on that?”

Gordhan said the lesson from Europe was that societies with dynamic politicians and political systems, high levels of cohesion between government, broader society, business and labour, and those able to discuss their problems frankly, were the ones that could make big strides.

He said world leaders at the meeting were asking serious questions about capitalism and income inequality.

“We have to find new answers,” he said.

He advised South Africans not to dismiss out of hand new approaches to growing the economy.

If South Africans were going to be formulaic and scoff at everything the ANC suggested, they might be missing an opportunity to find different pathways to the answers the world was looking for, he said.

“What the crisis is actually saying is even the economics profession is in crisis, forecasting is not always right … The kind of answers we’re looking for need to look beyond the field of economics.”

Gordhan said both politics and economics were impacting the European crisis.

Around 2 500 world leaders from business, government and civil society are participating in the Davos meeting under the theme The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models. — Sapa

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Gillian Jones
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