DTI claims new SEZ investment incentives are better

In launching it’s new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) plan, the department of trade and industry (DTI) has admitted to Parliament that a lack of specific attractive incentives did not lure investors to the various IDZs in South Africa in the manner intended accompanied by somewhat “ad hoc” funding arrangements with national treasury.

There was also insufficient marketing and a lack of stakeholder co-ordination, DTI has said.

Lionel October, director general of DTI and his team were asked to present to Parliament on the readiness of the new Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which are planned to substitute as a new investment drive and how the existing IDZs would be incorporated into the new plan.

In retrospect, October explained to parliamentarians, DTI had found that it’s officials  had often been provided with insufficient or untimely oversight of individual strategic plans and operations of the IDZs themselves had found the regulatory framework provided by DTI for the operation of IDZs insufficient to guide long-term planning and coordinate plans in order to integrate into other national, provincial and regional strategies.

Between the years 2002 to 2012, the government of South Africa has expended a total of R7,6bn to the three functioning IDZs on the East coast, R5,4 billion(76%) of this coming from the DTI’s budget and R 1,7bn from the host provincial governments.

Meanwhile, over the eight years of its operation, the current plan has attracted a total of 44 investors who DTI claimed have invested some R12.3bn, creating they say some 38,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Lionel October told parliamentarians that DTI now planned a “one stop shop model for investors where bureaucratic red tape will be reduced”; that the IDZs would be incorporated and integrated with SEZs with the assistance of experts identifying weaknesses in the previous systems and that DTI was developing a marketing strategy for the integrated result.

Tumelo Chipfupa, DTI’s deputy director-general, told the parliamentary committee that DTI admits that the three IDZs (Coega, East London and Richards Bay) should have achieved better results and a lot more had been hoped for but the result of under-achievement had resulted mainly because “the funding model did not cater for the dynamics needed by investors and the fact that allocation of funds had been inconsistent and inflexible”.

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