Statement by the Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger. (Responsible for the Provincial Treasury and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism)
I welcome the renewed commitment from President Cyril Ramaphosa to “introduce[e] a remote worker VISA and a special dispensation for high-growth start-ups” in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night.
However, we have heard this before in the 2022 SONA. One year later, we still do not have a remote working VISA with the VISA regime overall. It remains a significant obstacle to attracting investment into the country. A clear deadline for implementation must be announced as a matter of priority.
The longer we wait, the more opportunities we miss out on to grow the economy and create jobs, exactly at a time when we need them the most.
The report containing recommendations on the adoption of a start-up and remote working VISA, amongst others, has been with the South African Presidency since the beginning of December 2022.
The Western Cape Government submitted a constructive and detailed proposal to the Department of Home Affairs, first in May 2021 and again in September 2022, setting out how we can move urgently to implement the changes needed to benefit from the economic spin-offs these changes would bring.
Another key priority for the Western Cape is the need to speed up private sector participation in our logistics infrastructure so that we can stimulate export-led economic growth. It remains a worry to the province that the Port of Cape Town remains excluded from Operation Vulindlela. It is our strong view that it should be added to the list of Ports earmarked for private-sector participation, which currently includes the Ports of Durban and Ngqura.
According to our own research, a high growth scenario at the Port of Cape Town can contribute an additional R6 billion in exports, roughly 20,000 more direct and indirect jobs, and over 0.7% to the Western Cape Gross Domestic Product by 2026. This high growth scenario will require the private sector’s involvement.
I firmly believe that introducing a remote working VISA and improving the VISA regime overall, as well as ensuring private sector participation at the Port of Cape Town, are essential interventions needed to grow the economy at a faster rate and, ultimately, create jobs.