George Municipality Directorate Planning and Development last week presented its Risk-Aligned Economic Recovery Plan to the municipal mayoral committee.
The plan, which was compiled as a response to the short and long-term socio-economic effects of Covid-19, aligns with and informs several other George Municipality plans and strategies as well as the plans and strategies for the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) and Western Cape government.
George Municipality Director Planning and Development Lauren Waring said while the effect of Covid-19 would not be fully understood until the pandemic had passed, various surveys locally and across the world had identified the nature of some key impacts. “Some of the hardest hit sectors such as tourism, hospitality and retail are among our city’s most important sectors. We also expect poverty indicators to rise as the full impact on the informal sector, spaza shops and SMMEs becomes more evident.
“Covid-19 has had a damaging impact on the municipality’s revenue streams and it is expected to continue for the next three to five years. In response the municipality is developing meaningful interventions to stimulate the local economy and facilitate job creation, increase household consumption, and ensure the promotion of a stable and healthy living environment.”
To do this, George Municipality will focus on reigniting the tourism sector, providing sustainable support to the informal sector, developing an online SMME portal to provide access to different business processes and government and other support, using planning and infrastructure tools to ensure spatial transformation, developing tools to optimise resources, and enhancing data and knowledge management.
The municipality also takes into consideration its own systems, procedures, and functions to address Covid-19 impacts internally in addition to its external economic response, which includes social development, finance, and ICT responses.
Financial management responses include credit control, improved debtors management, revenue enhancement, cost containment and expenditure management.
The Social Development section, in ongoing relationships with the relevant mandated provincial and national government departments and other agencies, will promote an inclusive developmental agenda that focuses on issues including early childhood development, an integrated George safety and security network, sustainable food sources, homeless people and gender-based violence.
ICT responses will look into smart systems that maximise operational efficiency via the existing ICT platform, enhanced communication and performance management systems, and research and design capabilities to promote the meeting of targets and deadlines.
Economic Development portfolio councillor Dirk Wessels said the George Municipality Economic Recovery Plan was taking into consideration that Covid-19 was an historic event that would forever change the landscape of decision-making. “While the world is facing this crisis, the reality is that there may be more pandemics and other national and international disasters. The Economic Recovery Plan we have just released is the product of significant information and resource sharing across several agencies and reflects the multipronged approach required to pursue shared solutions for the major impacts on the local and global economy, geopolitics, and our societies.”
The George Municipality Economic Recovery Plan is aligned to current and developing strategies and documents including the National Covid-19 Recovery Plan, Western Cape Business and Economic Recovery Plan, George Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape Government Tourism Master Plan as well as the GRDM Tourism Strategy, Agricultural Master Plan, Investment Prospectus and Draft Green Energy Master Plan.
The Plan will form part of the George Municipality Integrated Economic Development Strategy that is currently being developed and will serve as a critical informant to several other municipal strategic planning processes being undertaken in the next six to 24 months, including the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), Spatial Development Framework (SDF) and Integrated Economic Growth Strategy (IEGS).
The George Municipality Economic Recovery Plan is available at https://www.george.gov.za/george-documents/policies-strategies-plans-and-guidelines/planning-and-development/