Strategic partnership with India crucial for SA: Zuma

"We will continue to work with countries and organisations of the developing south...for us, the strategic partnership with India, Brazil and China constitutes a critical pillar of our international relations," South Africa President Jacob G Zuma said.

Addressing South Africa's Parliament during its budget vote debate, Zuma said that the global financial crisis has severely affected its economy, causing massive job losses and unrest in the domestic market.

Zuma said around 1.79 lakh jobs had been lost in the first quarter of this year on account of the global financial turmoil and highlighted the restoration of discipline in the economy as the biggest challenge before the Government.

"We are now being hit by the full force of the recession. Many jobs have been lost. The quarterly employment survey of formal sector businesses reported that the first quarter of 2009 saw the loss of 1,79,000 jobs," Zuma said.

The most affected sectors are retail and wholesale, financial, manufacturing, mining and construction," he said.

The South African Government is planning to prepare a final draft of a training lay-off scheme next week with a view to "keep at least some workers in their jobs and train them during the downturn", Zuma said.

The Government will be making a further intervention, a final draft proposal for a training lay-off scheme to social partners early next week. The point of this scheme is to keep at least some workers in their jobs and train them during the slow period, Zuma said.

Under this scheme, the workers will receive relevant training, benefits and an allowance in place of their wages for a period of time, the President said.

Zuma also highlighted the need for a special focus on the fisheries sector and to increase the country's agriculture production in the backdrop of the global economic downturn.

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