Reflections on South Africa First Wave of Economic Reforms

This paper looks at economic reform against the backdrop of lower employment and increasing skill intensity of the economy and a consistently high gini-co-efficent ratio of 0.6. Economic reform is an all encompassing term that has a variety of elements that may be difficult to capture in one coherent analysis. What the paper attempts to do is highlight a few important areas of economic reform that have the potential to have significant effects on the economy, primarily from an efficiency point of view. There is broad consensus regarding the definition of the first wave of economic reforms in the last 10 years in SA. These can be characterised as reflecting a pro-growth strategy entailing fiscal prudence, trade reform and public sector reform, with the aim of creating a more market-friendly, efficient economy. What is more controversial is the extent to which this reform was pro-poor. A standard criticism leveled against government is that the reform path chosen may have induced modest growth in the economy, but at a high cost to employment creation. A counter argument is that the pace of reform was not far-reaching enough, leading to a limited impact on investment and growth rates. Is this a fair assessment? The paper attempts to confront some of these hard issues.

  • Authors: Rashad Cassim
  • Year: 2004
  • Organisation: UKZN
  • Publisher: HSRC Press
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