SONA - What the property industry thinks

16 Feb 2021

SONA 2021 - it was not a plan, it was a platitude

Commenting on the President's State of the Nation address Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty, lamented the lack of substance to back up "admirably lofty goals."

"What we needed to hear this year was a detailed plan for economic recovery, but much of Ramaphosa's speech may as well have been a copy and paste of last year's SONA, and the one delivered the year before, which is both disillusioning and discouraging.

"The government has been singing from the same hymn sheet for years without offering tangible results. We are still without electricity, government corruption is still rampant and the private sector is imploding.

"This while Ramaphosa has laid the bulk of responsibility for job creation this year at the door of the private sector, which categorically does not have the capacity in the current economic climate to step up to the plate.

"In fact, current policies are largely punitive and further diminish the private sector's capacity to contribute to growth."

Geffen says perhaps the most telling statistic to emerge from the speech is that the national economy has shrunk by 6% since Q4 of 2019.

"It is laudable that the President has ambitions to move forward with projects such as smart cities, but what is needed now - in a time of crisis like no other - is a tangible road map with achievable short-term goals to underpin and fuel economic recovery and boost job creation.

"This year the property sector does not stand alone but with every other industry in South Africa in calling on the government to offer something more than banalities and reassurance that they have a plan."

"What the President offered in SONA 2021 was not a plan. It was a platitude."
Lackluster at best

President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation address was lackluster at best, failing dismally to reassure investors that the country has tangible short- to medium-term plans to effect an economic turn-around, comments Joff van Reenen, Director of specialist real estate auction company, High Street Auctions.

"Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic what we needed from the government was long-term strategic goals to invigorate investment, but what business needed today was a policy position shift.

"The message investors needed to hear is that the public sector will become an enabling partner to business rather than a red-tape laden behemoth that places the responsibility of job creation squarely at the door of private enterprise.

"The reality is that in 2020 the lockdown all but imploded the private sector, which will take years to recover even with the strongest government backing. Without active policy changes across the board, the private sector's burden is too great."

Van Reenen says SONA 2021 highlighted the need to address corruption, economic growth, and reform, and the lack of infrastructure to service the country - the same subjects addressed in SONA 2020.

"We've heard this before. We know the problems, but what we need from government now, is firm leadership in offering solutions.

"Unless we have substance to underpin the big blue-sky thinking, the government is offering little to nothing in the way of tangible assistance to effect an economic turnaround," says Van Reenen.

Article published courtesy of Private Property

Go Back to News Main Page