Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 13.2019
2019.03.25 — 2019.03.31
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
EXCLUSIVE-Brazil says Russian troops should leave Venezuela if propping up Maduro (ЭКСКЛЮЗИВ - Бразилия заявляет, что российские войска должны покинуть Венесуэлу, если поддержат Мадуро) / United Kingdom, March, 2019
Keywords: political_issues
United Kingdom

BRASILIA, March 28 (Reuters) - The Russian troops sent to Venezuela should leave if their purpose is to maintain the country's leftist government in power, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said on Thursday.

In an interview with Reuters, Araujo said he hoped Russia would recognize that propping up President Nicolas Maduro would only deepen the collapse of Venezuela's economy and society, and that the only way out of the crisis was to hold elections under an interim government led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

"If their idea is to keep Maduro in power for longer that means more people starving and fleeing the country, more human tragedy in Venezuela," the minister said.

"Anything that contributes to the continuation of the suffering of the Venezuelan people should be removed," he said in a telephone interview.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and said that "all options" were open to make that happen.

Brazil's right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, whose government has joined a U.S.-led operation to get humanitarian aid into Venezuela, said the Brazilian armed forces have no intention of intervening militarily in the neighboring country.

The arrival of two Russian air force planes outside Caracas on Saturday believed to be carrying nearly 100 Russian special forces and cybersecurity personnel has escalated the political crisis in Venezuela. Russia said on Thursday they were "specialists" sent to Venezuela under a military cooperation agreement and were staying put.

Araujo said the presence of Russian soldiers in Venezuela was a sign of the weakness of Maduro. "If he needs to bring troops from abroad, it is clear that his own armed forces are not totally with him and not able to keep repressing the Venezuelan people," he said.

Brazil would like to discuss the Venezuelan crisis bilaterally with Russia and China, its partners in the BRICS group of largest emerging markets economies, to convince them that a diplomatic transition in the oil-producing nation might be in their best interest too, he said.

With the Lima Group of countries recognizing Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, Brazil is now focusing on getting his representatives recognized in international organizations instead of Maduro's, Araujo said, as happened recently at the Inter-American Development Bank.

Despite having differing views of the world, Araujo said the Brazilian government is looking to cooperate on trade and many other issues with Russia and China, whose presidents will attend a BRICS summit in Brazil in November.

A top priority for the Bolsonaro government is to expand agricultural exports worldwide, and particularly to China, Brazil's biggest customer, he said. Araujo plans to visit China with Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias in May.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Lisa Shumaker)

Abstract: Between Polycentrism and Bipolarity (Отрывок: Между полицентризмом и биполярностью) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance


The concept of multipolarity, at least in Russia, remains an eclectic assortment of general political statements and observations concerning important, but separate, global development trends. Multipolarity, as an inevitable and desired state of the international system (a new world order), has been put on hold until an increasingly distant future and is clearly evolving (especially in official political narratives) towards the old Soviet-era bipolar outlook on world politics. This evolution, different aspects of which are analyzed in this article, creates substantial potential challenges to Russia's positioning in the emerging system of international relations and slows down the development of the Russian theory of international relations. A convincing alternative to the multipolar concept is a multilateral one. The differences between the two are identified and analyzed in the final section of this article.

Keywords: polycentric world, multipolar world, multilateral world, Russian official political narratives, new bipolarity, IR theory
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at a meeting of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Board of Trustees, Moscow, March 27, 2019 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на заседании Попечительского совета Фонда поддержки публичной дипломатии имени А.М.Горчакова, Москва, 27 марта 2019 года) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: speech, sergey_lavrov, social_issues

Mr Drachevsky,

Members of the Board of Trustees,


We are holding a regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

We have a packed agenda today; we need to review the previous year's performance and outline our plans for the future.

We know that there is no need to go over and over how important it is to support public diplomacy, and contact between NGOs, and the academic and expert communities. Of course, the efforts that are being made in this area play an important role in maintaining trust and mutual understanding between nations, between civil societies. This is especially important when international tension is not subsiding, but continues to grow, primarily due to our American colleagues' and their close allies' persistent effort to impose their unilateral approaches, which grossly trample over international law, on everyone and everywhere.

The Gorchakov Fund is very active; its activities are recognisable not only in the Russian Federation, but also abroad. It can be noted with satisfaction that over the past years, the Fund has accumulated considerable experience in international cooperation, established strong stable partnerships with representatives from both domestic and foreign non-government circles.

I would especially note the Fund's efforts to provide expert support for integration in the post-Soviet space, as well as to strengthen cooperation in BRICS and the SCO, and to increase humanitarian cooperation between Russia and many European countries. The projects it supports, such as the international youth forum Prospects for the Development of Youth Organisations in the EAEU, School of Economic Diplomacy for the Development of Eurasian Integration, and the School of BRICS international research and educational programme, deserve high appreciation.

Today, when relations between Russia and the European Union are experiencing hard times, to put it mildly, working with civil societies in Europe remains fully relevant. We can see that the Potsdam Meetings that have become an annual event are gaining wide recognition. The Russian-Slovak Dialogue has also proven effective.

It is important that the Fund does not stop at what has been achieved, but extends its work to more projects. Last year, Russian-Romanian expert meetings were held jointly with the Nicolae Titulescu European Foundation, a Romanian NGO, which I hope will also become a regular event. For the first time, the Russian-German-Polish Trialogue was organised in Kazan with the involvement of the German-Russian Youth Parliament Alumni Association. International youth media schools – an innovative format that brings together young journalists and bloggers – are also gaining popularity. These events, in particular, have been held in Kazan and Kaliningrad.

The Fund's focus remains on interaction with youth. I have listed a number of related youth events. In addition, there are international contests for research and analytical works on Middle East issues and European security. Student organisations in Russia and North Korea have exchanged visits. Educational programmes for the younger generation have been implemented, such as Dialogue for the Future, the International Youth Diplomatic Seminar, the Central Asia School, and the Balkan Dialogue.

The Russian View and Expert Mobility projects have been expanded, encouraging the participation of Russian NGO representatives in key international events and our experts' lectures for foreign student audiences. The open lectures project, organised by the Gorchakov Fund itself, has also been ongoing.

We support the Fund's interaction with leading foreign research centres and universities. Last year, joint events were held in Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Germany, Switzerland and other countries.

The Yevgeny Primakov Georgian-Russian Public Centre is operating in Tbilisi. I think it expedient to consider the possibility of creating similar centres in other neighbouring states.

The Gorchakov Fund's role in the financial support of Russian and foreign NGO projects as part of the so-called grant competition is as important is ever; it is one of the main purposes for which this Fund was created.

Today we must consider a list of priority activities for 2020. You have the list of proposals prepared by the Fund; they evidently take into account modern international realities and the multi-vector foreign policy of the Russian Federation. I hope that after the discussion, we will be able to make positive decisions. We are certainly ready and interested to hear the opinions of the Board of Trustees members.

In conclusion, I would like to note that the Fund's work would have been impossible without the support of its sponsors. We are sincerely grateful to the members of the Board of Trustees Sergey Chemezov, Alexei Mordashov, Nikolai Tokarev and Mikhail Prokhorov, who sponsored the Fund in 2018.

Thank you.

2019: Towards a New World (Dis)Order (2019: на пути к новому мировому (бес)порядку) / Canada, March, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, global_governance, political_issues
Author: Klaus Kotzé

The Munich Security Conference is a leading annual forum on international strategy and security. The theme of its recent instalment, The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick up the Pieces? assesses the crisis in the global order. Its report asks: "Will the defenders of the post-1945 international order be successful in preserving its main elements and piecing at least some of them back together? Or will the world continue to move closer to, as former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has warned, a 'perfect storm' as the cumulative effect of several crises happening simultaneously destroy the old international system before we have even begun to build a new one?"

This question is circumscribed by its limited and dialectical scope. It presents the international order as singularly dependent on Western states, ignoring the agency of others. It is, therefore, deeply flawed. Our world is significantly different from that of 70 years ago, an era which was comprehensively dominated by the West with the United States at its core. The West is and will increasingly become relatively weaker. Even if it wished to do so, it neither has the means, nor the ways, to preserve a dominant command over the globe. While power is shifting away, historic hubris and strategic reluctance preclude the West from recognizing and, therefore, consolidating the modern diffusion of power. Until all legitimate forces are acknowledged as pieces of the 'Great Puzzle,' the condition of global power will remain, as Italian dissident Antonio Gramsci said, an interregnum: "The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born."

Instead of a fused order being born, the old masters of power are enforcing an enduring interregnum. The intertwined existence of the key states ensures that their pushing and pulling maintains a delicate inertia.

Chief among those unwilling to relinquish control is the United States. As the architect of the recent order, it remains the greatest power and the central agent in this inertial (dis)order. Its response to internal decay and loss of relative power, not a 'perfect storm' of external factors, has led the Trump administration to change its tactical means and ways towards maintaining its core national interests: continued pre-eminence and global leadership. It is necessary to perceive its tactical movements, not the noise around it, to discern the grand strategy of the United States in the 21st century. Trump has boldly commenced this new strategy: a shift from providing global security and ensuring open markets, pursuing singular global command over a multilateral order, to a brazen 'America First' policy, seeking unilateral control in a contest among others. Though its current, crude form is subject to pressure and its continuation post-Trump is unclear, the US cannot and will not sustain its role as global guarantor and guardian. It will revoke its benign approach in order to take care of itself, first; its internationalism is being replaced by nationalism. The US will pursue its assertive national interest by leveraging its dominance; exerting power in order to maintain it. It will use its influence over partners as strategic instruments for cooption. Its retreat from the Iranian Nuclear Deal and its reimposition of sanctions on Iran limits partners from pursuing independent agendas. Its pressure on the international mechanisms that it originally assembled, such as the World Trade Organization, keeps other states from drawing benefit where it does not reciprocally profit. This return to nationalism should not be contorted by propaganda as a crass, malign pursuit. An ideological approach conceals its strategic intent; an emotional approach subverts an appropriate response. Instead, these moves should be seen as real; the global power is rescinding its constitutional arm from the international order. It is returning the world to its normal order; for a state to be independent, it must claim power itself. Realpolitik has awoken from its slumber.

Europe must realize that these tactical shifts are not simply the moves of an erratic US president. Europe must be strategic. Yet, to be truly strategic it needs to be consolidated and autonomous. A true strategy only exists where independence is expressed, where territory and truth are commanded. Europe's disintegration is the goal of Trump's éminence grise Steve Bannon and his Movement. Europe's reform towards a consolidated union is its greatest challenge. The 2016 European Union Global Strategy takes a considerable step, employing strategy towards its interests; it is the first programme to declare strategic autonomy as its objective.

To achieve this goal, the bloc must shed its ideological straightjacket and wake up to realpolitik.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas recently made a call for practical intervention. He invoked an "alliance of multilateralists… a network of partners who stand up together for the preservation and further development of the rules-based order." First, the salvaging of the state-centered international arrangement is needed to prevent disorder and decay. A lateral network among independent states, based upon the core principles of the United Nations Charter presents a practical point of departure. Such an order critically recognizes the strategic autonomy of states; it accepts multiplicity and rejects a narrow ideological approach.

Such a network of partners currently exists in the BRICS. Though BRICS remains misperceived and poorly articulated, it has been consolidated as an intergovernmental regime, towards maintaining and reforming the global order. BRICS rhetorically performs and promotes the principles and norms of the United Nations Charter. It develops an alternative narrative towards steering international cooperation and exchange.

This articulation of the international order confronts hegemonic conceptions, asserting that no unilateral interpretation holds as absolute truth. By returning the state to the center of global power, it asserts that sovereign states are not circumscribed by each other but only by legitimate international law and order.

BRICS functions as multilateral cooperation, in relation to the UN, not the US. Its emphasis on the legitimate principles of the UN points to Western liberal democracy as being a singular version inside a diverse international system; Western states are pieces of a broader puzzle. By collectively claiming the legitimate space for states to be independent, BRICS disrupts hegemonic inertia; it seeks to transcend the interregnum, to claim its representative global influence and to reform global order according to its interests.

BRICS' challenge to hegemony is not direct. Instead, its strategic communications return focus to the UN Charter, advancing its core principles: sovereign equality, peaceful coexistence and non-intervention.

BRICS states have gained immense power under the open, networked order. It employs principled sovereignty to salvage this system and advance non-ideological cooperation. Its cooperation among its dissimilar member states presents a partnership that respects difference and recognizes independence.

In closing her keynote address to the Munich Security Conference, German Chancellor Merkel warned of the disintegration of the global order. She stated that the 'Great Puzzle' comes down to one foundational matter: instead of going it alone, we must abide by the cooperative, win-win principles of multilateralism. Merkel's promotion of the Chinese maxim of win-win relations represents a clear rebuke of US unilateralism and the concomitant decay of order.

Any attempt to deny the major states their respective place in global order will fail. Only an inclusive order can be stable; the picture only coheres when all the puzzle's pieces are present. Order and not disorder is in the interest of the entire world. It is only by placing practical differences and not ideological uniformity first that global order can be sustained and reformed.

Kotzé recently completed his PhD at The Centre for Rhetoric Studies (University of Cape Town) on the subject of BRICS and its strategies of persuasion

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of or any institutions with which the authors are associated.
Senior Russian diplomat slams US statements on Brazil's NATO membership (Высокопоставленный российский дипломат осуждает заявления США о членстве Бразилии в НАТО) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: quotation, political_issues, national_security

MOSCOW, March 27. /TASS/. Remarks by US President Donald Trump on Brazil's potential NATO membership are not conducive to easing tensions throughout the world, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said on Wednesday.

"NATO members should be given credit for their ambitions. President Trump recently suggested expanding the alliance's area of responsibility to South America, admitting that Brazil, a BRICS member-country, could join NATO," he said at the conference titled "OSCE: Prospects for Pan-European and Eurasian Security and Cooperation." "It is not quite clear whether he read the Washington Treaty, which specifies who can become the alliance's member. Anyway, this policy of achieving unilateral advantages aimed at reshaping the current multipolar world in accordance with last century's patterns, is extremely viable. Of course, these statements are not conducive to defusing the atmosphere of confrontation."

Trump earlier said at a White House meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that Washington was considering NATO membership for Brazil.
Next BRICS summit to be held in Brasilia on November 13-14 (Следующий саммит БРИКС пройдет в Бразилиа 13-14 ноября) / Russia, March, 2019
Keywords: summit, chairmanship

The Brazilian capital will host the BRICS summit for the second time already

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 25. /TASS/. The 11th BRICS summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will be held on November 13-14 in the city of Brasilia, the Brazilian chairmanship in the association reported on its website.

The state and government leaders of the BRICS countries will meet in the Itamaraty Palace, where the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is located. The Brazilian capital will host the BRICS summit for the second time already. Last time the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China met there in 2010 in a four-party format (South Africa officially acceded to BRICS in 2011 during a summit in the city of Sanya, China - TASS).

The main theme of the Brazilian chairmanship in the association was formulated as follows: "Economic growth for innovative future." Among the priorities stated by Brasilia is scientific-technical and innovative cooperation, digital economy, the fight against organized crime and money laundering, and the consolidation of cooperation within the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS New Development Bank.

BRICS is an informal association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The state leaders have held regular summits since 2009. Since 2013, the chairing country has also invited states close to it geographically and geopolitically to the summits. The last such meeting was held in July 2018 in Johannesburg.

Apart from the summits, negotiations between the BRICS foreign, finance, health, education, science and agriculture ministers and secretaries of security councils are also held. The meetings focus on such issues as energy efficiency, climate change, food safety, the fight against poverty, a stable development and the activity of international financial institutions.
Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Eskom suspends load shedding after days of blackouts (Эском приостанавливает сброс нагрузки после нескольких дней отключений) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, investments, economic_challenges
South Africa

Over the weekend, Eskom said that there will be no load shedding this week as the outlook looks favorable, with plants performing better than last week.

Last week, the country was plunged into hours of darkness as Eskom battled to sort out issues with generating units at some stations.

"The improvement in plant performance, together with replenished diesel and water reserves over the last few days, as well as the increase of imports from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa to 850MW, has positively shifted system performance," said Eskom in a statement.

However the power utility highlighted that the risk of load shedding remains as the system continues to be vulnerable.

"Load shedding will only be implemented when absolutely necessary," it said, while also urging its customers to continue to use electricity sparingly by switching off geysers and non-essential lighting.

In the last few days South Africans have experienced daily load shedding which varied between Stage 4 and Stage 2.

On Friday, rotational load shedding came down two notches to Stage 2 load shedding.

Stage 1 calls for 1000MW, Stage 2 calls for 2000MW, Stage 3 calls for 3000MW, and Stage 4 calls for 4000MW to be rotationally load shed nationally at a given period.

Meanwhile, SA's prayers may have been answered as BRICS Bank plans to lend R11 billion to Eskom which could alleviate some of the pressure on the country's electricity grid.

The New Development Bank (NDB), back by the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is in talks with the government about loans that could assist the country's electricity grid ailing infrastructure, the lender's president, K.V. Kamath, said by phone last week.

Earlier this month, South Africa's energy regulator, Nersa, granted Eskom average power price increases that were far below what the utility had asked for, saying it aimed to balance the interests of the company and the public.

Eskom was granted a 9.4% tariff hike for this year along with an increase of 8.1% for 2020 followed by 5.2% the following year.

Will the New Development Bank live up to its promises? (Будет ли Новый Банк Развития выполнять свои обещания?) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting, expert_opinion
South Africa

The New Development Bank (NDB) will host its 4th Annual Meeting from 31 March to 2 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, in Cape Town.

With this upcoming general meeting being the fourth one, among the questions being asked is: "Will the NDB live up to its promises?"

The NDB was founded in July 2014 at the 5th Brics summit in Fortaleza, Brazil and became operational in 2016.

In South Africa, the NDB opened an African Regional Center in Johannesburg two year ago, and plans are in place to set up the Americas Regional office in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

By the end of 2018, the bank approved 30 infrastructure projects with the total lending standing at 8 billion USD.

Looking at the genesis of the NDB and its founding principles agreement plan for 2017–2021, it was stated that the bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics and other emerging economies and developing countries, completing the existing efforts of multilateral and regional financial institutions for global growth and development.

Further, the new projects and instruments will drive sustainable infrastructure development as it is at the core of NDB's operational strategy.

The annual general meeting will be an opportunity to review whether the NDB has been able to mainstream the principles and strategic objectives in its policies and projects.

Civil society groups, who have engaged with the NDB since the start of its operations in 2016, have voiced concerns regarding the way in which policies have been applied and implemented on projects.

Other issues raised have been about the controversial financing of projects such as Eskom and Transnet.

Less than 2 weeks ago, the NDB announced its plans to lend as much as R11.2 billion to Eskom for infrastructure projects this year as the distressed power utility struggles to keep power supply going.

The NDB also approved funding valued at R28 billion to Transnet related to the Durban port expansion project in July 2081.

Not enough attention has been given to South Durban communities who have expressed environmental and social concerns, including the lack of consultation with affected communities.

When we look at actual projects which are being financed, in South Africa for instance, it is difficult to understand how projects contribute to inclusive, sustainable development.

Eskom and Transnet have been undertaking similar projects with finance received from other development banks.

So, what would be different or new about the NDB?

In order for the NDB to truly support sustainable development, which is central to the NDB's mandate, the NDB must be inclusive of community voices, especially women, and have safeguards and be accountable and transparent.

While the NDB claims to focus on the economy, environment and society (people) aspects, the NDB has yet to demonstrate appropriate levels of transparency and accountability.

A main concern by civil society has been the rather opaque approach in which projects have been identified and approved.

Over the 3 years of its operations, the NDB has not made available project information to the public nor have they developed a clear process for public consultations in any of the Brics countries.

In its ambition to be lean and green, the NDB seeks to fast-track the project approval timeframe to 6 months.

By doing so, the NDB sidesteps many critical areas including public consultation throughout the project cycle of their investments.

Prioritising gender and women's rights in its investments is also critical for promoting more effective and sustainable economic development.

Towards this end, the NDB needs to integrate a more gender inclusive and gender responsive strategy to all their structure and operations, and to develop a gender policy.

The NDB offers the African continent promise of a new way of working that is transformative, inclusive and participatory.

But it must now begin to work in this way in order to live up to its name and show that it is truly an alternative to the older traditional development banks.

Buenaventura Goldman is project leader at Oxfam South Africa; Tsegay is senior research & monitoring specialist of African Monitor
BRICS New Development Bank positive on Asian economies (Новый банк развития БРИКС положительно влияет на азиатские экономики) / China, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges, expert_opinion, quotation

Annual reports from the Boao Forum for Asia say that Asia remains competitive in creativity, tech innovation and economic openness. Some are concerned whether Asia can keep its competitiveness in face of global volatility, but Leslie Maasdorp, vice president of the BRICS New Development Bank is bullish on the momentum of Asian economies.

"There is no question as the reports suggested. Asia right now is and will continue to be a significant growth engine in the world economy," he told CGTN.

He mentioned that, in addition to traditional growth engines, the openness of the economy, application of new technology as well as innovation become the new sources of growth in Asia.

2018 witnessed some serious currency depreciation in emerging economies, between 10 and 40 percent against the U.S. dollar. Maasdorp said that it's fundamentally because of a strong U.S. dollar, not a domestic problem.

"Emerging markets suffer from the direct impact of the movement in the U.S. interest rate. If the U.S. dollar rises, it directly leads to the reversing capital flows out of the emerging markets. So many of the emerging markets, like Brazil, South Africa and Turkey, suffer from this," he explained.

"Let's take Turkey as an example. The impact of that significant depreciation in the Lira has taken huge and immediate effect on other emerging markets," he added.

He noted that for Asian economies or any other emerging market, the key thing is to insulate from any extremeness of global volatility. "You can do this in a number of ways. One way is to have strong savings and investment rate, which is Asian economies have," he said.

He also said that other emerging markets are not so fortunate as their investment flows are influenced by external volatility. And he thought commodity-based economies are more easily affected by external factors as they are pricing commodities in U.S. dollars.

As the U.S. Fed signals no rate hike for 2019, he believed that depreciation pressure would be absolutely eased. "A stable U.S. interest rate that is predictable for the future should provide a better environment for investment decision," he stressed, projecting that emerging economies would develop in a more stable and predictable environment.
SA to host BRICS bank annual meeting for the first time (ЮАР впервые проведет годовое собрание банка БРИКС) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, top_level_meeting
South Africa

South Africa will be hosting the 4th Annual Meeting of the BRICS New Development Bank in Cape Town next week. It is the first time SA is hosting the meeting, which aims to help the bank better leverage investment in sustainable infrastructure development.

The meeting will be held from March 31 until April 3.

The NDB's mandate is to mobilise resources - financial or otherwise - for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS, emerging markets and other developing countries. It has already approved over $600m worth of projects for South Africa.

National Treasury is the department responsible for managing South Africa's relationship with the NDB, as well as the planning and execution of the upcoming annual meeting.


"The meeting is according to the articles of agreement of the bank, and shareholders - the five BRICS countries - will gather to check on the financial health of the organisation and its operations, to approve the financial statements and give policy direction for the bank to take in the next year," Vuyelwa Vumendlini, deputy director-general for international and regional economic policy at National Treasury, told Fin24 on Thursday.

Paul Michael Romer, an American economist and a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, will be one of the academics attending the meeting along with, among others, China's finance minister.

South Africa's Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni is the current chair of the board of the NDB.

Infrastructure development

According to Vumendlini, one of the meeting's main aims will be to see how the bank can be used to leverage investment in sustainable infrastructure development for a better future.

"This is the first time South Africa is hosting the annual meeting.

"We hope it will be an opportunity to showcase infrastructure development projects the bank has funded," said Vumendlini.

How SA can benefit

In her view, the bank itself is not really well understood in SA.

"So now we have invited all the important stakeholders to meet the management of the bank and the governors of the bank to understand what the bank is about, what it can offer and how South Africans can leverage the bank for its own benefit," she said.

"There are opportunities for co-financing, for instance. The bank will also launch a bond in SA this year. The meeting is an opportunity for long-term investors to find out more about what kind of bond it is."

The bank's board of directors will consider projects put before them.

"South Africans can look forward to announcements of what the bank will do in South Africa next.

"So far, the bank has approved about $680m worth of projects for SA," she said.

Moment of consequence (Момент последствий) / China, March, 2019
Keywords: ndb, economic_challenges

Strengthening its board of directors would enable the World Bank to deal with the new wave of development challenges, no matter who is at the helm as president

China, a major World Bank client since its first loan was approved in 1981, should have a keen interest in the future direction of the largest multilateral development bank. The imminent change at the helm is an opportunity for the World Bank to go beyond fighting poverty, and give top priority to confronting the dangers of climate change, widening income gaps and the hindrances to open world trade - crucial concerns in China, and Asia.

But getting this agenda off the ground could be stymied if the US administration's nominee for the presidency, David Malpass, is put there mainly to slow climate action and check the rise of China.

Malpass, an undersecretary of the US Treasury, is the lone candidate for the vacant position and reinforces the unwritten norm of an American national always heading the World Bank. This manner of selecting the chief of the multilateral agency - and a European leading the International Monetary Fund - is highly problematic. But, be that as it may, the big question is what direction the Bank will take going forward.

How the World Bank handles this moment of change will have major consequences. After all consider the dominant size of its lending: $67 billion in 2018, which is several folds larger than the annual lending of the relatively new China-based agencies, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and BRICS New Development Bank.

As of mid-2018, China received from the World Bank cumulative financing of $60.5 billion (excluding that from its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation). This financing went to 416 projects in a range of sectors including transportation, the environment, urban development, rural development, energy, water and human development.

Independent evaluations point to the successes and failures of the World Bank. Over the past 25 years, extreme poverty has fallen by well over half, with East Asia and especially China leading the reduction.

The World Bank's support for trade and market reforms can take some of the credit for growth and poverty reduction. But it should also take some of the blame for the costly neglect of the environment and climate change that accompanied the charge for growth, especially in East Asia and China.

A concern about Malpass, who has been a skeptic of climate actions, is that he may not drive the bank's plan to lend $200 billion over the next five years to fight climate change.

The development agenda for a global bank is best guided by John Maynard Keynes' idea that the role of government is not to do what the private sector does regardless of whether it does it a little better or a little worse, but to do those things that are not being done at all. In that spirit, the agenda is best focused on global "public" problems such as damage to the environment, deficiencies in basic health and education, and gaps in infrastructure, where the private sector vastly under invests. The World Bank has a vital role in these causes - provided its support is efficient and effective.

But to stay relevant, the World Bank needs to blend financing with its expertise in problems of rapid urbanization, alarming demographic shifts, rising income disparities and climate change. Improving governance and tackling corruption are guaranteed silver bullets for progress in these areas. The World Bank's experience in policy dialogue with governments, and its ability to provide solutions, means it can make a difference.

Taking this direction will help the World Bank to have a truly global clientele, including China, which is set to reach high-income status. As reflected by independent ratings of China projects, its use of World Bank financing is among the most effective. But the nomination of Malpass, a critic of World Bank lending to China, seems to be a part of the administration's move to contain the country's presence. There is an argument, however, for keeping higher income countries, who under current policies "graduate" from the institution as they reach high-income status. Their presence can add value, not necessarily for borrowing money, but for their role in sharing lessons learned along the development path.

There is a way to enable the World Bank to deal with the new wave of development challenges, regardless of who is at the helm as president. And that is by strengthening its board of directors with highly regarded development leaders from the member countries who can provide checks and balances to the presidency because of the intellectual and political weight they carry.

If the US administration's choice is not to result in the World Bank primarily serving US interests, its independence needs to be vastly strengthened. The board, comprising 25 directors, has increasingly been made up of bureaucrats from member countries. As a counterbalance to the president who chairs the board, there needs to be a strong board giving strong and cohesive leadership for the World Bank's program.

The World Bank is a highly proficient organization staffed with deep skills in multiple disciplines in development. But for its interventions to be effective, the World Bank must refocus attention on the critical global public problems, blend its offering of financing with knowledge, and broaden its country coverage as a truly global development institution.

The author is a professor at the Asian Institute of Management and National University of Singapore. As a former senior vice-president at the World Bank, he is the author of Multilateral Banks and the Development Process. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
Is South Africa Canada's best trade bet in BRICS? (Канаде стоит сделать ставку на торговлю с ЮАР среди прочих стран БРИКС?) / Canada, March, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, trade_relations, political_issues
Author: Jack Hughes

To expand our trade portfolio, among BRICS countries the best option is South Africa ─ a market that could yield a good return on investment

Canada is facing a seemingly intractable dilemma: we're trying to broaden our international trade and investment portfolio, at a time when our alternatives have narrowed. Nothing illustrates this problem more acutely than the "it's complicated" status of Canada's relationships with Brazil, Russia, India and China — members of the BRICS emerging economies.

There is, however, a fifth member of that group: South Africa. Canada and South Africa forged strong ties in the struggle against apartheid. Both are leading members of the Commonwealth and they share a common language, common values, and legal systems based on the common law. All things being equal, could South Africa be Canada's best bet in BRICS?

When President Cyril Ramaphosa came to power a year ago, he promised South Africans a "new dawn." Since then, he has begun to address the country's biggest challenges through a combination of economic reforms, anticorruption measures, targeted efforts to spur job creation, investments in critical infrastructure and the promotion of education and training.

In his recent 2019 budget speech, a candid and eloquent survey of the South African economy, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said, "The private sector is the key engine for job creation," and he vowed to end "the uncertainty that has undermined confidence and constrained private sector investment." This pledge echoes a pivotal speech from South Africa's past.

In 1992, Mboweni attended the World Economic Forum with Nelson Mandela. Addressing the forum, Mandela signalled a change in his personal views about how economic growth is best achieved: "[It] will require a rapid and sustained growth in terms of capital formation or fixed investment, drawing on both domestic and international sources to finance this investment."

Mandela was just two years out of prison and still two years away from the presidency, but the seed he planted was that any government he led would be committed to sound fiscal policies and free markets. His goal was to reassure global business and political leaders that a post-apartheid South Africa would be a stable, secure market for trade and investment.

Like his mentor Mandela, Ramaphosa has travelled the world to reassure potential foreign investors — and he hasn't gone alone. He named a team of senior investment envoys to secure $100 billion by 2023 to stimulate the economy. Using a vivid metaphor, Ramaphosa said, "We are unleashing this pack of lions to go and hunt down those investments."

Early evidence suggests the hunting will be good. An investment conference in October generated $20 billion in pledges from private sector companies. That amount is in addition to a combined $35 billion in commitments from the United Kingdom, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — meaning the envoys are more than halfway toward their goal.

Ramaphosa and his pack of lions argue that "South Africa is an investment destination with significant unrealized potential." It is certainly an economy that has witnessed a decline in foreign direct investment since 2010. As Ramaphosa recently told a group at this year's World Economic Forum, "We have the loss of nine years to make up."

Canada's interest in South Africa has remained consistent — even during those "lost years." In 2013, Stephen Harper's government's Global Markets Action Plan identified South Africa as an emerging market "with the best potential for broad Canadian commercial interests." South Africa was, notably, the only African country given this priority designation.

On its website, Export Development Canada gives South Africa a "low to medium" risk rating, and lists agriculture, consumer goods, machinery, oil and gas, plastics and chemicals, and telecom as "key industries." These are all in Canada's wheelhouse and are already the basis for our annual direct investments to South Africa, totalling over $2.5 billion in 2017.

Much of the risk in South Africa stems from short-term political uncertainty. President Ramaphosa is completing his predecessor Jacob Zuma's unfinished term and will face voters in early May of this year. Opinion polls show that Ramaphosa is the country's most popular political leader, but it's too soon to say how his African National Congress party could fare.

If Ramaphosa is given a mandate to complete his substantial reforms — which very much remain a work in progress — Canada will find itself competing with other G20 suitors. In this, Canada should try to secure an early-mover advantage. While South Africa would not solve all of Canada's international trade problems, it is a market where sensible, strategic bets could yield a strong return on investment.

The views expressed here represent the personal opinions of the author.

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Minister Jeff Radebe responds to the Sunday Times article dated 24th March 2019 (Министр Джефф Радебе отвечает на статью Sunday Times от 24 марта 2019 года) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: political_issues, quotation
South Africa

Response by the Minister of Energy to the Sunday Times article dated 24th March 2019

Over the past couple of days, there have been a number of media reports about alleged irregularities in the department's cooperation with South Sudan. These reports emanated from a sensational headline article that was published on the front page of the "Sunday Times" dated 24th March 2019, titled "Jeff's dodgy $1bn Oil deal –Minister Radebe's team splurges millions in pursuit of Energy venture in South Sudan". In light of where we find ourselves as a country and the dire need to clean up our backyard as government, there has never been a better time for media to be playing its part in exposing any illicit behavior by public officials who are found wanting.

For the record, I also applaud the process of other corruption-busting mechanisms set up by the former and current Presidents, like the Zondo Commission, that have been set up to hold public officers to account. Sadly however and emerging of late, is the suspicious timing of various spurious allegations on the eve of these contested elections. On the one hand, my superior logic says that this kind of political posturing and settling of scores should come as no surprise for a seasoned politician like myself and perhaps, I should take it on the chin. But, the other part of my conscience says that the prejudicial selection of truth and fiction is unjust for South Africans who seek to only know and read the uncompromising truth. These allegations require an emphatic response to set the record straight and dispel such false assertions.

1. Contextual Background
To assist with context, it will be useful to firstly describe South Africa's relationship with South Sudan. Our relationship dates back to the time when the liberation movements of the African National Congress and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army were fighting for their liberation. The South African Government has played a critical role in the liberation of South Sudan. In preparation for the new State of South Sudan, South Africa went to the extent of training many leaders and cadres of South Sudan for the new administration. This training was provided by the University of South Africa and coordinated by the Department of Public Service and Administration.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa, was still Deputy President of the Republic, he played a central role to South Sudan's peace process - a role that is still being continued by the current Deputy President Mr David Mabuza. The South African National Defence Force also continues to deploy troops in that country as part of the United Nations Peace mission.

The point I make here, is that South Africa took a political position to support South Sudan in its social and economic development, long before I became the Minister of Energy. Contrary to the innuendos of the said newspaper article, this government to government cooperation had been years in the making and technically cast in stone – certainly, not by my own doing. That would be giving me far too much credit.

2. International Energy Agenda
For those who require a better understanding of the international energy agenda, it needs to be emphasized that International Cooperation is an integral part of ensuring energy security. The energy portfolio has a number of agreements and Memoranda of Understanding which underpin this cooperation. An example of such agreements is the corporation agreement with Mozambique which, amongst others, facilitates trade in both gas and electricity between the two countries.

Cooperation in infrastructure development forms a critical pillar of the African Union's Agenda 2063-The Africa we want. This, amongst others, informs our approach to investments in the Continent such as our current petroleum exploration operations in Ghana.

In all my pronouncements, including those to Parliament, on the issue of high oil prices, I have been transparent on the department's engagements with my counterparts on the Continent. This is to bolster South Africa's position with regards to access to crude oil; to ensure self-sufficiency as well as to find ways of mitigating fuel price fluctuations in the long term. As recently as Tuesday the 26th of March 2019, I met the Minister of Energy of Botswana to explore areas of strategic cooperation between the two countries.

3. Strategic Rationale
So why has South Africa been talking to South Sudan? South Africa is a net importer of crude oil and it has always been our strategy to source oil and gas for our domestic use, both internationally and where possible within our own territory. In all my pronouncements, including those to Parliament, on the issue of high oil prices, I have consistently indicated that I am engaging with my counterparts on the Continent. This is to bolster South Africa's position with regards to access to crude oil and ensure self-sufficiency as well as way of mitigating fuel price fluctuations in the long term.

On 12 September 2018 when addressing the National Assembly I indicated that taking into account the current reality of unproven reserves in our country, we needed to look at more prolific countries and invest in blocks producing crude oil particularly on the African continent. I further stated that this will require financial resources as exploration is quite a costly but necessary exercise. In September 2018 I specifically mentioned that I had begun a process of engaging with my counterparts in Nigeria, South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea as part of our intervention to mitigate future challenges.

As government we would want to get to a situation in which the prices of fuel compare favourably with those of oil producing countries. As recently as Tuesday the 26th of March 2019, I met the Minister of Energy of Botswana to explore areas of strategic cooperation between the two countries.

This strategy also includes facilitation of drilling for oil locally which has led to the recent oil and Gas find off the coast of Mossel Bay and the Shale gas potential in the Karoo. Our involvement in various parts of the Continent including South Sudan is informed by this strategy.

South Sudan is a significant oil producer with estimated reserves of 3.5 billion barrels of crude oil. It also has 3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas in its estimated reserves. The country's reserves are ranked third largest on the African continent after Nigeria and Angola. To illustrate the magnitude of the gas reserves, the PetroSA Gas To Liquids Refinery has over the past 20 years only used 1 tcf of gas.

The country is land locked and to get its oil to the market, it is dependent on a pipeline passing through Sudan and incurs significant logistical costs. It is envisaged that a Joint Investment Project will assist South Sudan in finding an additional export route and in turn, bring strategic oil reserves to other markets including South Africa.

Towards the end of 2018, South Sudan invited South Africa to consider participation in the oil and gas sector in that country. If you familiarize yourselves with government processes, you will know that such participation can only be done through a Government-to-Government agreement. In the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two countries, all the Constitutional and legal processes undertaken have to involve the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Presidency. The Presidential Minute empowering the Minister of Energy to sign the MOU on behalf of the South African government was duly authorized - without this, an MOU can never be concluded.

The Joint Investment Project value chain starts from an exploration block, to a pipeline, then to a new refinery and finally, to a new terminal. This will unlock the reserves of South Sudan to be self-sufficient, serve regional markets and will bring value, financially and strategically, for South Africa and South Sudan.

This is not only for South Sudan but for the East African region including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, with Sudan creating a robust market that facilitates trade and other investment opportunities.

4. Sequence of events Leading to the Article
Leading to the Sunday Times article, the Journalist contacted the Director-General of National Treasury who explained to her how these matters are dealt with in government and specifically how this matter had been raised with National Treasury by CEF and SFF officials. As quoted verbatim by the journalist herself the Director General said the following: "The National Treasury met with SFF and CEF at their request.

They wanted to understand what they needed to do to meet the requirements of the Standard for Infrastructure procurement and Delivery Management and the Public Finance Management Act. We agreed that once they complete the necessary work, including undertaking the feasibility study, they will come back to the National Treasury for the necessary approvals." Essentially, the National Treasury has been kept abreast on the developments of this project, while also seeking their advice on how infrastructure procurement will work, when the need arises.

5. A Detailed Analysis of the Article
I wish to proceed and deal with the misrepresentations in the article.
An energy expert would know that as a future potential equity partner in the joint investment project, South Africa could potentially do the following with the South Sudanese crude oil:

  1. Swap it for any other suitable crudes.
  2. Sell it into the open market
  3. Uplift, refine it and bring finished products into the country.
5.1 Project Development & Resourcing
The development of such a project requires key critical skills which are scarce on the Continent such as geologists, refinery specialists, process engineers, economists, financial modellers, petroleum industry experts, business analysts, investment and funding specialists. The members of the team of experts mentioned in the article are all CEF Group employees with a proven track record in delivering on complex projects. They are not an additional financial burden to the Group.

There are six experts assigned to the South Sudan Project and twelve to the Saudi Arabia Refinery and Petrochemical Project who are also all sourced from within the CEF Group. How a conclusion is reached that the Saudi Arabia project is not receiving adequate attention is an indication of the malicious intent of the so called source.

The CEO of the project has not been relieved of his current responsibilities as the acting CEO of SFF. His responsibilities in the project are therefore not an additional cost to the CEF Group. His primary responsibility on the South Sudanese Project is to oversee the feasibility stage.The long term plan is to ensure a transfer of skills and a sharing of key resources which will contribute to the development of both countries.

5.2 Project Approach
The project is still in the feasibility stage where a number of assessments are still being made. Therefore the project at this stage does not require any Cabinet or National treasury approvals.

5.3 Travel Costs
On the travel costs of this project, it stands to reason that a project of this magnitude requires coordination between various divisions within the CEF Group and their counterparts on the South Sudanese side, hence travelling of experts from both sides is necessary for prudent and timely execution of the project. To date, the Project has spent no more than R 2.2 million, which includes personnel costs and travel. The basis and source of the R20 million mentioned in the Sunday Times is misleading.

The hiring of an aeroplane to travel to Juba was due to a critical business need and was duly approved in line with Treasury Regulations after consultation with National Treasury.

5.4 Capital Investment ($1bn)
The stated $1Bn is the estimated cost of the full project including the oil block, pipeline and refinery which will be spread over a period of 10 (ten) years. A project of this magnitude passes through various phases of approval and execution. The amount mentioned is an indicative figure at this stage. As with similar projects of this nature, upon completing the feasibility study, the project has a potential to attract other strategic partners and/or investors which may include South Sudanese and South African companies.

5.5 Approval Processes
The signing of the Government to Government agreement was widely published in November 2018. The Project is now in the feasibility stage, which has been approved by the SFF Board. The cost of the studies is well within the SFF Board's delegation of authority. It is incorrect that the SFF Board rejected the expenditure related to the project.

The project has never been formally tabled before CEF Board for approval. It is therefore incorrect that CEF Board rejected the project as alleged in the article. The allegation that CEF Board rejected the request for approval of $9m is also not true since this figure falls within the delegated levels of the SFF Board which does not require the CEF Board approval.

5.6 International investments in South Sudan
The assertion that two foreign governments has done a similar feasibility study and found that the venture did not make sense is not corroborated by the level of interest demonstrated by the activities of other countries in South Sudan. Out of five members of BRICS countries, three major players in the petroleum sector (i.e. Russia, China and India) are already in South Sudan. In addition, other multi-national companies have made significant investments in the country. Other important countries in South Sudan are Malaysia, Nigeria, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Some oil majors having shown interest to work with South Africa to unlock the potential of South Sudan.

It is international best practice in the oil Exploration and Production industry, especially in countries that have a high demand which cannot be met by domestic production, to have equity interests in oil producing blocks outside of their countries. South Korea and one of India's state-owned companies have stakes in oil and gas projects in different oil producing countries. This project, if fully executed, will bring similar value for South Africa.

5.7 Non-factual information and faceless sources
Let me take this opportunity to address the issue of the removal of Mr Luvo Makasi as the Chairperson and a member of the CEF Board, as it has already been reported in the media. Mr Makasi was removed in his role following serious allegations relating to corruption that were brought to my attention. Mr Makasi was given an opportunity to make representations to me relating to these allegations. The representations were not sufficiently persuasive given the information that had been presented to me. As a Minister of Energy, I took decisive action to deal with this matter by reporting the alleged corrupt activity to the law enforcement agencies as I am duty bound to do so in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004 (Act No.12 of 2004). In future, I will not hesitate to take a similar decision should any office bearers place themselves in similar situations.

In dealing decisively with the corruption allegations before me, this kind of misleading information being pedaled, smacks of an attempt to derail the clean-up process being undertaken and provides a divergent distraction to the task at hand. I will not be deterred in doing everything in my power to bring to book those allegedly involved in corruption at the CEF. The CEF Board has distanced itself from the grossly misleading information that the media alleges to have been supplied by the Board and other insiders. We believe the information is malicious and is intended to distract us from what is important and to sour the relationship with our South Sudanese counterparts.

A case in point is an allegation relating to the SFF Board meeting last week to ratify the expenditure ex post facto. No SFF Board meeting was scheduled for last week and none took place.

6. Way forward
In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone present here today and assure you all that the Department of Energy and its entities are open to honest and transparent engagements on this and other energy matters.
In the next couple of weeks, we will be engaging further on our broader energy plans and key initiatives. This is important in ensuring that we take the country along with us as we continue to deliver on the government's broader national energy imperatives.

Thank you.

Curtain falls on 5th administration Cabinet (Работа 5-ого Кабмина подходит к концу) / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: cooperation
South Africa

The fifth administration Cabinet has thanked its social partners and citizens at large for their cooperation during its term.

On Wednesday, the national executive held its last Cabinet meeting in Pretoria ahead of the 8 May national and provincial elections. Although it was the last Cabinet meeting, the executive will remain accountable until the elections.

Cabinet used the meeting to express its appreciation to Parliament and the Judiciary for upholding constitutional values and holding the national executive to account in the interest of a better life for citizens.

It also expressed its appreciation to South Africa's partners in the SADC, African Union, BRICS, Group of 20, United Nations and other formations, for standing by South Africa to improve conditions in the country.

Cabinet went on to pay homage to members of the national executive who passed on during this fifth administration -- Ministers Collins Chabane and Edna Molewa, as well as leaders in other spheres of government. Cabinet said they served the country with distinction and advanced the interests of South Africa domestically and globally.

The last meeting also saw the approval of several frameworks that will further take the country forward.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

The first one was the approval of the establishment of an IMC on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which will advise government on strategies and policies to respond to new technological developments occasioned by digitisation.

The main responsibility of the IMC will be to coordinate the planning and implementation of the 4IR interventions, including complementing the work of the Presidential Commission on 4IR.

National Drug Master Plan

Cabinet went on to approve the evaluation report of the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2013-2018, which is a demonstration of government's continued commitment to fight the use and effects of drugs within communities around the country.

The evaluation proposes a number of interventions such as harmonising the strategies of the departments, as well as the establishment of an independent, fully-funded structure to drive substance abuse prevention programmes in communities, especially amongst the youth.

Cabinet also approved the setting up of an Anti-Drug Council, structured similarly to the South African National AIDS Council, to drive the fight against drug addiction.

The revised master plan will now be referred to as Anti-Drug Master Plan.

Cabinet believes that these recommendations will go a long way in decisively addressing drug addiction.

Gender mainstreaming

Another key decision taken was the approval of the Framework on Gender Responsive Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring Evaluation and Audit.

The framework places gender mainstreaming at the centre of public policy by putting forward a strategy and implementation plan towards gender responsiveness of existing planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation and auditing systems.

Cabinet said the constitutional mandate to end gender discrimination and realise the rights of women and girls, requires a decisive and effective paradigm shift across all State machinery.

National coordination mechanism

In line with the National Development Plan, which seeks to promote sustainable development by tackling regional, continental and global challenges, Cabinet also approved the establishment of a national coordinating mechanism to coordinate the sustainable development agendas of the UN, AU and the SADC.

This national coordination mechanism will serve as a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder process to facilitate consultations and coordination within and outside government on South Africa's international sustainable development commitments.

This will be overseen by an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), driven from the centre of government.

Its task will be to ensure that the development agendas of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the AU's Agenda 2063 and the SADC's Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan -are fully reflected in the country's national plans. It will also serve as a guide on fulfilling monitoring and reporting requirements.

Evaluation reports approved

A number of evaluation reports that were commissioned through the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) were also approved.

These include the evaluation of Government Business Incentives which among others recommends the establishment of an Intergovernmental Incentive co-ordination committee which will address the overlaps and complementaries in various business incentives.

The last one was the evaluation of the Integrated Strategy on the Promotion of Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprises proposes improvement plan includes improvement, coordination and rationalization across all spheres of government and strengthen institutional governance and oversight.

South Africans urged to vote

The meeting concluded with a call on all eligible voters to exercise their constitutional right to cast their vote on 8 May.

Cabinet said the participation of voters is central to a well-functioning democracy and through regular elections, citizens can elect their representatives and hold them to account. –

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
Institute takes advantage of Brics ties to 'bear fruit for young people' (Институт использует связи Брикс, чтобы «приносить плоды для молодежи») / South Africa, March, 2019
Keywords: social_issues
South Africa
Author: Setumo Stone

It was four years ago in July 2015 when Teboho Sehloho, founder of Johannesburg-based Generation Next Institute, put pen to paper and signed a cooperation agreement with the Russian Union of Youth as part of the Brics countries efforts to "develop and strengthen friendly relations".

The agreement stated as one of its aims that the desire to strengthen ties between the Brics countries must involve young people from the partner countries, in this case South Africa and Russia.

Young people would be roped into "the implementation of cooperation programmes in the field of economy, education, science, culture, sports, tourism, employment, public work and other areas on the principles of mutual respect and parity within their powers, and using tools and resources at their disposal".

Earlier this month Sehloho, who first volunteered to participate in Brics activities in 2014, spent 14 days in the Russian province of Siberia as an official guest for the 2019 Winter Universiade, an international student and youth sporting competition in the city of Krasnoyarsk.

At the opening ceremony of the event, led by Russian President Vladimir Putin and graced by officials from the Russian Federation and other countries, Sehloho attended as the South African delegate.

Sehloho tells City Press that he "had an opportunity to interact with the officials, fans and athletes in the winter games over the period of five days I had spent as an official guest at Krasnoyarsk".

He says he also had productive discussions with the organisers of the event, including ideas about "future cooperation between South African sport associations and their Russian counterparts".

"The experience was electrifying and yet heart warming to witness yet another grand opening addressed by President Putin, after I had attended the last World Student Festival where he also spoke," Sehloho says.

At the famous mining city of Kemerovo, Sehloho was welcomed by Sergey Yungblyudt, the director of the Kemerovo Regional Institution of Advanced Training to the energy ministry of the confederation.

He says the discussions focused on Siberia's educational practices in the field of mining, and an agreement was signed for the training of South African citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation, including "practical assistance in familiarising trainees with the advanced equipment and technology used in the Russian mining industry, as well as ideas for cooperation between relevant universities and other industry stakeholders".

"This contract will contribute towards technological cooperation and exchange between the two countries, as well as sustainable development of mining and education in that field," Sehloho says.

Then he was off to the city of Novosibirsk, hosted by the district government and the chairman of International Organisation for Economic Cooperation, Sergey Stepanov. The organisation, he says, has 4 000 member companies in Russia.

"In the first day in Novosibirsk, in the meeting with Stepanov and his staff, we negotiated a cooperation and common working agreement on strategic infrastructure and other projects in South Africa with Brics partners and investments," says Sehloho.

He says he also met the director of regional government department of international relations in the district government, Sergey Sannikov, who was interested in forging ties with organisations and companies involving young people in Gauteng, South Africa's economic hub.

An idea for the summer and winter sports event between South Africa and Russia was on the cards, Sehloho says. He says the Russians were also looking at launching a medical "research centre" in South Africa, working together with local companies and laboratories.

He says having returned to South Africa, it was now up to Generation Next Institute to ensure, with the help of the South African government, that the deals negotiated in Russia "bear fruit for our young people".
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