Monopolies are choking economy – Ramaphosa

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Colleta Dewa

Johannesburg - South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa says white people's monopoly over important sectors of the economy was hampering the country's economic growth.

The president, who was addressing a conference looking at 25 years of democracy at the University of Johannesburg last week, added that very little had been done to end white people's monopoly over important sectors of the economy, including banks.

"The economy of our country is not open enough and it so happens that it is only open to certain insiders who are white.  The IMF long ago, with the World Bank, analysed our economy and said that one of the key problems with our economy in South Africa is the dominance of monopolies.

"That they have a stranglehold on the economy of our country and that was what was designed in the past and it was so designed that it ensured that there were a few insiders and it so happened that the insiders were white controllers of the economy and that has continued right until today," said Ramaphosa.

He singled out the banking sector as the major victim.

Currently there are four major banks in the country, Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank, servicing the country's needs from bonds, day-to-day banking and loans.

"You look at the banking sector, you've got only four banks that dominate the economy of our country - the major ones that is - [servicing] the 57-million population," he added.

He said that this was detrimental to the economy as it was meant to shut out new players from participating in the sector.

He added that the majority of people find it difficult to finance their businesses because of the limited option.

"With only four banks, your entry or your access to capital becomes very constrained. If you want to go and start a company, you move from one bank to the other and by the time you get to the third one they've all said no. Where else do you go?  We therefore need to open this economy and broaden the landscape so that black players can also come in and have access to capital, they must have access to market, they must have access to distribution channels, they must have access to the shelves in the retail shops as well."

Ramaphosa said his government would now pay a lot of attention to township businesses as one way of ending the dominant rule of monopoly.

 He also promised that business people in the townships would be assisted financially.

 

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