“Supporting an unemployed person with a public works job far outweighs its cost” according to ex-deputy director-general of National Treasury, Andrew Donaldson.
Experts with a deep understanding of economics, our country and its policy history, from Andrew Donaldson to Kate Philip, the lead on the Presidential Employment Stimulus, are calling for an expansion of socially and economically productive public works programmes.
The disastrous level of unemployment in South Africa now stands at 41% by the expanded measure and 68% for youth under 25. We cannot wait for the private sector alone to solve the problem. Our society is a tinderbox of social issues fuelled by unemployment.
But there is hope. Progress Party is centring its 2024 election campaign on a plan to end unemployment in the country in three years through guaranteed work opportunities for every unemployed South African. Progress’s plan, outlined below, involves a major expansion of public works along the lines of the 650,000 productive jobs a year in the Presidential Employment Stimulus as well as extensive support for micro-entrepreneurs.
And Progress is making a simple pledge to anyone who thinks their work plan makes sense: “Vote for us and we will enter a coalition with any party that agrees to substantially realise our work programme.”
Progress Party’s Plan
- Offer every unemployed South African a guaranteed work opportunity in the form of a half time job paying R2,200 a month or R2,200 a month to be trained and funded as a micro-entrepreneur.
- Focus the jobs on socially and economically productive work so that for every R1 spent, conservatively, R1.50 to R2.50 is returned to GDP.
- Ensure the jobs and micro-entrepreneur opportunities are continuous (one to five year contracts), predictable and stable, expecting the programme to reach every corner of the country after three years.
Modelling suggests that this plan is economically responsible, ensuring that GDP grows faster than public debt. It also enables a vigorous private sector recovery through the micro-entrepreneur programme and the widely-distributed economic base created through so many more people earning a reliable income.
The private sector will also benefit from the social and economic returns of the enormous human resources within the jobs programme devoted to improving education, crime prevention, energy generation, housing, rail, roads, walkways, cycling paths, micro-farming and the reinvigoration of our secondary towns.
The plan is funded by several large reprioritisations of the existing national budget – particularly infrastructure. Progress is also considering new, medium-term, progressive taxes which can, in substantial part, be offset by co-investing in our work programmes.
Progress’s leadership team of non-profit and commercial veterans, many unemployed volunteers and expert allies, are kicking off our campaign in earnest in the coming weeks.
Early next year we will publish our full set of expert-informed policy positions. However, our
central message will always remain, get South Africa working and we have the best shot
at fixing the rest of our problems.