Nedlac gets a stronger voice in SEZ management

Long time in making

Coega harbour equipMinister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, told parliamentarians that much of the delay in bringing the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Bill to parliament was the result of lengthy negotiations on SEZ board make-up.

Whilst the draft Bill was at Nedlac negotiation stage, it had resulted in the proposed six independent members of the fifteen member SEZ board were now proposed as three independent members from Nedlac “constituencies”, the other three independents being proposed by the minister.

However, DTI had insisted that the three Nedlac independents balancing the independents, presumably from business, meet a criteria set rob daviesby DTI and the minister.

Linking SEZs to IDZs

Another reason for the lengthy gap between the Bill first appearing for public comment and its tabling was that a considerable amount of work and input had been made at provincial and localised areas in places such as Coega and East London, where SEZs were in embryonic stage, or in areas where IDZs were about to happen such as Saldanha.

DTI was at pains to state that the two complimented each other, although SEZs were a subsequent development found necessary to develop all areas of South Africa, especially in depressed rural areas, whereas IDZs were linked to ports or international airports.

The new SEZ board will administer proposals for SEZs, run funding mechanisms and handle incentives, said minister Davies. In each area set up, DTI will be responsible for setting up a “one stop government shop” to deal with all government departmental issues involved with the investors dealing with the particular SEZ.

State will work with partners

The Bill will provide for municipalities, in fact any tier of government, to apply for an SEZ but a rigorous process of evaluation is called for in terms of the Bill where a business applies for an SEZ in evaluating whether a municipality is capable or has the capability to provide the services called for. No private ownership of a SEZ will be allowed but private and public partnerships are to be encouraged.

DTI provided Parliament with the figures to date on progress with existing IDZs amounting to some R3bn providing nearly 50,000 jobs. Saldanha particularly had provided a strong foundation for the oil and gas industry in that area, said Lionel October, director general, DTI.

Four types

Most importantly, October said that the SEZ Bill provided the missing framework for this kind of area industrial development and there were four types of or categories of SEZ, which were a free port; a free trade zone; an industrial development zone; or a sector development zone.    Any government or municipal involvement is to be in terms of both the Public Finance and Municipal Finance Management Acts, the Bill proposes.

In answer to comments that Kenya and Nigeria were ahead of South Africa in such investment offerings and speed and good incentives were essential, Minister Davies responded that it was not a question of anybody being “ahead” of anybody.   South Africa, he said, wanted to see all of Africa grow and South Africans wanted to be able to trade with the whole of Africa. All of Africa must grow for all to benefit. It was not relevant to him, he said, whether Nigeria was economically larger or smaller than South Africa.

Will SEZs override traditional land?

Various MPs gave voice to the worry of land issues in rural areas where SEZs were to be established or created but DTI expressed little concern on this matter as far as drafting the Bill was concerned.     DTI responded that that such issues were specific to an individual SEZ and such matters would be dealt with in terms of an individual application and by the individual SEZ working party involved.

The primary concern, said DTI, had to be the re-industrialization of the rural areas.
Associated articles archived
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//finance-economic/special-economic-zones-sez-bill-to-be-be-up-shortly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/sez-programme-to-get-going-with-new-bill/

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