MOSSEL BAY NEWS - The Western Cape Provincial Parliament Finance, Economic Opportunities, and Tourism Committee were last week briefed by the Mossel Bay Municipality on several issues impacting economic sustainability.
Key issues discussed focused on:
• the TNPA Port Infrastructure and the impact the port may have on tourism and the gas and oil industries, renewable energy and gas projects, and related investment opportunities;
• the Municipality’s Small Scale Energy Generation (SSEG) bylaws and tariffs and IPP readiness;
• an overview of COVID-19 impact on the local employment and businesses, and the Municipality's post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
The Parliamentary group also met with members of the Mossel Bay Business Chamber, where among others, the ease of doing business within the Municipality was highlighted.
"The economic recovery plan for the Mossel Bay Municipality hinges on four components. The positive outlook on its immediate financial position is the result of sound financial and operational planning, diligent management of the financial plan, and management implemented timeously to counter any downward trend,"
Mossel Bay Municipality Director of Planning and Economic Development Carel Venter said when he briefed the Parliamentary group.
Venter said the lasting effect of the economic downturn is evident in more homeless people on the streets, an increase in unemployment and job seekers, more evident social ills, and local businesses cutting short their expansion plans.
"Generally, construction soon picked up during lockdown level four, with a positive impact on employment. The same level of building plans is being submitted as in previous years, and currently, is at an all-time high for Mossel Bay.
The tourism industry was the hardest hit, yet indications are that popular holiday resorts will again be fully booked during the December holidays.
Venter elaborated on specific economic development initiatives, like the Southern Cape Economic Optimisation Initiative that seeks to attract foreign direct investment, create employment opportunities, and increase buying power.
Sustainable, uninterrupted clean energy by independent power producers and sustainable water availability using desalination will be key components to lure big and international business to Mossel Bay.
The Port of Mossel Bay, optimised for efficiency and effectiveness at a level of international best practice offers tremendous potential, as does the international status for and proximity of the George Airport to import and export directly from the Southern Cape.
Mossel Bay's investigation into an Aquaculture Zone will support the fishing industry, attract Foreign Direct Investment, provide opportunity for local empowerment, job creation, skills Development and enterprise development. The National Department Environment Affairs has initiate the EIA process.
Venter also touched on the possible development of a Motorsport Mecca on the outskirts of town and said the Municipality is heartened by the interest shown by the motoring fraternity, who will eventually develop the infrastrucute.
The Parliamentarians reacted enthusiastically to the news of the strong post Covid-19 tourism drive, known as The Great Escape to Mossel Bay. Mossel By Tourism is implementing various initiatives with the Municipality, such as the upgrading of the Arts and Crafts Centre, tourist guide training, the implementation of the Tourist route to entice tourists to tour the CBD, strong emphasis to promote adventure tourism, and to develop new attractions.
The municipality has contributed to the establishment of the Garden Route Film Commission and is one of only two municipalities contributing financially to the commission, with their offices located in Hartenbos.
There was also great interest in Venter mentioning the Mossel Bay Airfield Development that will develop the airport.
Mossel Bay Municipality is also working hard to retain the many excellent medical practitioners and specialists that sets the town apart from neighbouring towns. The Da Nova Medical Precinct is intended to accommodate more hospital groups and/or rehabilitation centres, to create more employment and to promote health tourism.
The presentation on local economic development through the business parks also sparked much interest.
The Municipality is providing subsidised business premises to small medium, micro enterprises, and provides training and support until the businesses can afford to pay commercial tariffs. More of these parks are being considered for the KwaNonqaba and Great Brak areas.
"The work by the Mossel Bay municipality is critical in order for the area to not only recover to pre-lockdown levels but to further grow and create employment opportunities. In order to achieve these goals, the municipality plans to invest in infrastructure, supporting the tourist industry and creating economic opportunities through multiple programmes.
"We look forward to visiting the area again and monitoring developments in the region as we grow our recovery in the Western Cape towards jobs, dignity, and safety for all residents," concluded MP Deidré Baartman, who chaired the meeting.
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