CABINET ‘LAST WORD’ ON PLANS — MINISTER MANUEL

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel has reassured that the Cabinet will have the final say on policy formulation.

Briefing the media on Friday, Min. Manuel said the revised green paper on national strategic planning clearly stated the National Planning Commission would have no executive powers and that Cabinet would make the final decisions.

“The commission will make it easy for Cabinet to take decisions. It will do that without getting in the way of Cabinet to take decisions you can’t take away that important function that the constitution gives to the Cabinet,” Min. Manuel said.

This comes amid a fierce contest between the ruling African National Congress and its alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party — over the powers the commission will have over the formulation of economic policy.

It suggests Min. Manuel and the commission would have no executive powers and play an advisory role to the government, but also that the alliance partners would not be allowed to monopolise SA’s economic policy formulation arena.

It will also take some political pressure off Min. Manuel, who has faced claims from the alliance left that he would be an “imperial” Prime Minister.

Economist and CE of Pan- African Investment & Research Services, Iraj Abedian, said Manuel’s comments were about clarifying who was in charge of economic policy, and that Cabinet would not just implement policies developed by the alliance but would make the final decision.

Min. Manuel said although he was confident the revised document would receive support from different sectors and organisations, not everyone would be satisfied.

“There is a fair amount of support now.” The green paper which was first released by the Cabinet in August and approved last month following a consultative process in Parliament — dealt with the work of the commission and how it would function, said Min. Manuel.

The document states that the first output of the commission would be to draft a Vision 2025 and a long-term strategic plan.

“The Vision 2025 will be an articulation of the type of society all South Africans would want to see in about 15 years’ time. It will set out the high-level aspirations for the nation in terms of social, economic and political development,” the document reads.

Min. Manuel said the commission would release a draft vision and long-term strategic plan within 18 months.

The commission would also produce research reports and discussion papers on key “cross- cutting issues” that affect development.

“These thematic papers will cover issues such as food security, climate change and human resource development trends and will be tabled in Parliament for discussion.”

Min. Manuel called for the public to nominate people to serve on the 20-member commission.

“We seek the best, brightest minds in our country that can use their sectoral expertise to contribute towards a broad development plan.”

Nomination forms are available on the Presidency website and the closing date is 10 February.

Min. Manuel said President Jacob Zuma would announce the names of the commissioners before the end of March.

Min. Manuel said a secretariat based in the Presidency would be established to provide technical, administrative and professional help to the commission.

“To staff the secretariat, we seek to attract a small number of highly competent, experienced professionals through offering a range of flexible employment options, including the option of secondment from public and private organisations,” he said.

Source: www.businessday.co.za, 20100118

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