By Staff Reporter
QWAQWA- Free State Premier Sefora Ntombela has highlighted progress made despite the challenges of Covid-19 which seemed to frustrate their plans to create jobs.
“We created fifty-two thousand, two hundred and thirty-three Expanded Public Works Programme work opportunities throughout the province. From this total number of job opportunities, 69 percent of women, 48 percent of youth and 0.72 percent of persons with disabilities benefitted,” Ntombela disclosed during the state of provincial address on Tuesday.
She said going forward , there is a plan to create fifty-six thousand Expanded Public Works Programme job opportunities in the coming financial year. This should start immediately and not later than June.
“We will continue with Expanded Public Works Programme until the economy yields permanent jobs. We completed some of the following projects in the current financial year in the following areas:- Odendaalsrus Township Revitalisation Programme, Steynsrus Township Revitalisation Programme, as well as Botshabelo Substance Abuse Dependency Treatment Centre,” she said.
Other projects that the Premier highlighted that will be completed by March 31,2021 include the upgrading of the Old Eureka Hostel in Thaba Nchu, upgrading of Charles Mopeli Stadium Parking in Phuthaditjhaba and Botshabelo Township Revitalisation Programme.
She mentioned the following projects as work in progress – New Riebeeckstad (Thandanani) Clinic in Welkom, New Rheederspark Clinic in Welkom as well as Charles Mopeli Stadium Phase 1 in Phuthaditjhaba.
Ntombela however admitted that the economy was strained , adding more pressure on the economic growth thereby resulting in contributing to more unemployment, poverty and inequality, but said plans are under way to address them.
“We are hard at work to revive the economy. But the road ahead remains long.Through our economic reconstruction and recovery interventions, we want to revitalise the economy and bring long-lasting solutions to our challenges. Small and medium enterprises are the growth drivers of our economy. It is for this reason that we have introduced incentive schemes to support them.
COVID-19 relief funding to the value of sixty-one million Rand was offered to six hundred and eighty-one small and medium businesses, mainly in townships.”
She said business , local economic development that were negatively affected by covid -19, have primary focused in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment.
“Of the more than eight hundred and eighty-nine million, nine hundred sixty-nine thousand Rand spent in the procurement of Personal Protective. Equipment, sixty-two percent of the enterprises that benefitted were black.”