Presenting his department’s annual report to Parliament’s economic development committee, Patel listed highlights from the 12-month period. These included achievements in the economy as a whole, and successes from the agencies reporting to the department.
Close to 200,000 jobs were created over the accounting year, he said. “That brought total employment up to 13.6 million. Of those just short of six million… were jobs held by women… 5.77 million of those jobs [were] held by young people,” Patel told MPs.
Annual gross domestic product grew by R240 billion. “The GDP is now over R3 trillion in size.” Funding approvals and disbursements by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) also saw significant increases.
“In this 12-month period, the IDC approved R13.1bn worth of funding,” Patel said. The disbursements of funds to recipients were even higher from April last year to the end of March this year.
“IDC disbursements money that leaves the bank account of the IDC and reaches the intended recipients was just short of R16bn,” he said. This was 87 percent higher than the previous 12 months. The turnaround time for the approval of projects was 37 percent higher than the previous financial year.
The competition authorities’ crackdown on companies abusing their market power yielded more positive results. “The competition authorities in the 12-month period imposed penalties on companies for collusion and price fixing and abuse of market power of some R731m,” Patel said.
This excluded hefty fines issued to construction cartels, which were finalised after the financial year ended. Cartels in the construction and infrastructure sectors were fined R1.4bn, while penalties in the telecommunications sector totalled R650m.