Special Economic Zones (SEZ) To Drive Economic Development

Pretoria - The proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Bill will help address socio-economic problems like unemployment among the youth, says the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

"South Africa still experiences a high unemployment rate, particularly amongst the country's youth, regionally concentrated economy as well as high levels of poverty and inequalities," said DTI head of regional and spatial economic development, Alfred Tau.

He was speaking at the Free State leg of the department's countrywide public hearings into the bill, gazetted by Minister Rob Davies for public comment in January.

"The Special Economic Zones, as proposed in the Draft Bill and Policy, will be used as one of the tools that government will apply in order to address some of these challenges. The government moves from the premise that industrial development is key to growing the country's economy and creating employment opportunities, as well as generally bettering the lives of our people," added Tau.

The world's fastest growing economies like China, India and Brazil have used Special Economic Zones as an instrument to accelerate their industrial development.

The direction proposed in the bill and policy for SEZs has government's full support as was demonstrated in the national budget tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. In the budget, Gordhan said tax relief was being considered for businesses that invest in economic zones.

These included the reduction in the corporate income tax rate and support for employment and training expenses. R2.3 billion would be allocated to the dti for industrial development and special economic zones.

Participants at the hearing raised issues from special benefits and incentives that special economic zones would provide for the province in order to attract investors, as well as benefits for small enterprises, among others.

The purpose of the Bill is to provide for an effective mechanism for the development, operation and management of SEZs in order to promote accelerated industrial development and industrial decentralisation.

- BuaNews