Rob Davies can list some successes this year, including the long-awaited Bill establishing economic development zones, but other legislation drawn up by his department has not been as well received. There are also some questions about whether policy from the department always aligns with policy being put in place by the rest of the government, and the National Development Plan in particular.
The Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill, designed to replace a raft of bilateral investment treaties offering protection to foreign investors, has come under fire for greatly reducing investors` rights. This has sparked fears that the new legislation may discourage investors. Davies has argued that the previous legislation was not in line with the Constitution.
The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill and its potential to drive away investors by introducing some uncertainty has been questioned, and the parliamentary portfolio committee has asked for certainty on protection of intellectual property rights to give investors confidence.
The Credit Amnesty Bill, which grants amnesty to more than a million creditors and sees the removal of adverse credit information on clients from credit listing agencies, has been controversial.
There is a view that the minister is placing too much emphasis on industrialisation, and manufacturing in particular, ignoring the country`s need to expand its export trade to boost the economy. A stakeholder said manufacturing is not producing enough jobs to warrant subsidies and assistance and that South Africa needs to drive growth through trade. The department has allocated more this year to drive intra-African trade, but the percentage of its budget allocated to trade remains low.
Stakeholders praised the department`s industrial policy action plan as a whole. Launched this year it, among other things, looks at developing agro-processing and green industries, medicines and local procurement, as well as a buy-local drive.
Some of the minister`s moves, such as clamping down on exports of iron ore to drive beneficiation, have not been well received by business.
On the positive side, Davies is seen as a dedicated and hard-working minister who is devoted to public service and willing to hold entities accused of corruption to account, most recently the National Empowerment Fund.
The minister has been praised for his efforts to develop sustainable small, medium and micro enterprises, and for driving legislation to replace industrial development zones with economic development zones.