ASISA prepared to walk the growth path as a collective

08 December 2010 ASISA
Leon Campher, CEO of ASISA

Leon Campher, CEO of ASISA

The Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) is committed to partnering with Government and all other stakeholders on the proposed growth path aimed at creating decent work, reducing inequality and defeating poverty by increasing the rate of growth of the South African economy.

Leon Campher, CEO of ASISA, says Government should be applauded for reigniting the process required to place South Africa on a growth path.

“We acknowledge that the National Growth Plan focuses primarily on the role that Government can play in placing the country on a sustainable growth path. However, we also view the proposed Plan as an urgent call to action by Government to all stakeholders. As stakeholders we can therefore choose to treat the proposals on the table with skepticism or we can sign-up with enthusiasm, help to thrash them out and make them work.”

Campher says the terminology used by Minister Ebrahim Patel in the National Growth Plan document strongly indicates that Government considers the Plan a partnership.

“The Plan consistently uses terminology such as ‘shared’, ‘collective’, and ‘joint’. ASISA is supportive of Government’s desire to partner with stakeholders such as the savings and investment industry to reach a common goal of economic growth to the benefit of the country and its people.”

ASISA’s members are the primary collectors of the nation’s savings and are responsible for the prudent application and management of those funds on behalf of citizens.

Campher points out that one of the key reasons why ASISA was created by its members is to collectively engage with Government on policy issues and to actively partner with Government on the SA Inc strategy aimed at promoting South Africa as the economic gateway to Africa and creating a regional savings powerhouse. Partnering with Government and all other stakeholders on ensuring a solid growth path for South Africa definitely falls within this mandate, he says.

“Minister Patel highlighted that the development of more constructive and collaborative relations between the state and business are key to the implementation of the New Growth Path. We support this view and believe that we have in place a number of initiatives that aim to achieve just that.”

Campher points out, however, that the partnership approach must also be adopted across all Government departments.

“To make this work we not only require buy-in from stakeholders outside of Government, but also from Government departments beyond the Economic Development Ministry,” he adds.

“On more than one occasion South Africa has demonstrated to the rest of the world that when we have something big to focus on we are able to make the seemingly impossible possible. This is an incredible opportunity for all stakeholders to tackle something really big. This time it is not about pulling off a World Cup soccer tournament, but about making South Africa sustainable and viable for generations to come.”

Campher says Government’s framework for a new growth path commits to forging a consensus around a policy package which has at its center “systemic changes to mobilise domestic investment”.

He says the requirement to encourage high levels of savings and investment and to direct capital towards developmental initiatives that will help grow the economy and create jobs is of particular relevance to the savings and investment industry.

To this end the National Growth Plan calls for “profound changes in the structure of savings, investment and production”.

“As the custodians of the country’s savings our industry will therefore need to assess whether we have the kind of regulated savings vehicles that adequately package and attract long-term capital options for domestic and foreign money,” says Campher.

He adds, however, that attracting new savings through the correct vehicles is not the only challenge – retaining that money is just as important.

Campher also points out that fiscal or monetary policy cannot on its own provide the desired results. The New Growth Path acknowledges this by distinguishing between macro-economic and micro-economic packages.

He comments that the Plan also recognizes that a top-down approach cannot bring its imperatives to life. “By distinguishing between micro- and macro-economic portals, Government has created a convenient and efficient means for business to engage the policy planning environment,” says Campher.

“In conclusion, the debate is not about interventionism or free-marketism, but about mutual reinforcement and how that can be used as a game-changing strategy. South Africa should be the next emerging success story. By attracting more inward investment, by aligning the extraction of its resources with production, and by developing its young population, it can have a production and consumption driven growth path, with a rising middle class. It is possible, but getting there depends on all of us reaching common ground for common gain.”

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