President Jacob Zuma says the National Development Plan needs to be aligned to the country's budget, or else it will not live up to all it promises.
The President said this when he addressed the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday night.
The NDP was drafted by the National Planning Commission - a team of experts from different sectors of the economy - on 12 September 2012.
"We will use the budget to pursue the goal of inclusive economic growth.
"Cabinet has directed the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to work with the Economic Cluster of government departments to ensure that there is alignment between the priorities in the NDP and the budget.
"This is an important step because the NDP will remain an empty promise as long as its noble goals are not matched with budget commitments," he said.
The event was attended by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and senior government officials.
The President said government was taking other concrete steps to implement the NDP.
"Through the implementation of Operation Phakisa, our Big Fast Results programme, we have developed very specific interventions in the oceans economy, health, education, mining and agriculture sectors.
"Operation Phakisa programmes in the ocean economy, for example, have since 2014, unlocked R7 billion in investments and created more than 6 000 jobs."
He said government is also implementing incentives and support services for investors through the Special Economic Zones programme.
He said the six Industrial Development Zones, established between 2002 and 2014, have attracted a total of 59 investors on site with an investment value of more than R10 billion.
"These achievements demonstrate that working together we can indeed do more. It is the same collective effort which made it possible for all of us to build a new nation from the ashes of apartheid.
"It is by working together that our GDP grew in real terms from R1.6 trillion in 1994 to just over R3 trillion in 2015.
"Employment has grown from 9.5 million people in 1994 to 16 million people at the end of 2015.
"Access to housing and basic services has improved through the construction of four million new houses since 1994, increasing connections to electricity to 95% of the households and piped water to 85% of households.
"It is by working together that we can build on the 2.5% economic growth that was recorded in the last quarter to a sustainable growth path that can create jobs for the millions who are unemployed," he said.
Progress made in implementing the NDP
Meanwhile, the President said progress has been made in implementing the NDP, which has been mainstreamed as government's programme of action through the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).
He said the MTSF 2014-2019 has 14 outcomes, which include education, health, safety and security, inclusive economic growth, job creation, infrastructure development, nation building and social cohesion, among others.
"Since we started implementing the NDP, we have marked progress in a number of areas.
"More people live longer than before, life expectancy has improved. A lot more children are at school getting the education whose quality is gradually improving.
"The progress is, however, uneven across sectors. The reach of the basic services has not fully reached all citizens, especially those who live in the rural areas. Government thus continues to work daily, to expand the reach of water, electricity, roads, housing and other services to the people."
The President said the economy has not fully recovered from the effects of apartheid.
"We have created a relatively large black middle class which is actively involved in the economic life of our nation. However, this achievement has not fundamentally transformed the structure and ownership patterns of the economy.
"Too many people who need jobs to support themselves and their families are still unemployed.
"The fruits of the economic growth that we have experienced since the advent of our freedom in 1994 have tended to be enjoyed by a few.
"The fundamental challenge we face, which is the principal goal that is identified in the NDP, is to grow the economy in a manner that is inclusive."
Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, who is also the Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, said high-level leadership meetings are being held regularly between government and business, government and labour, and government and civil society to provide a route for focused dialogues to discuss the contribution of each sector to the implementation of the NDP, identify blockages and develop a common understanding of how obstacles will be overcome.
"The NDP has got tangible programmes that are currently being implemented in various sectors including infrastructure development, ocean economy, education, ITC sector, agriculture and many others.
"We may disagree in some of the finer details like the priority areas, approaches and perspectives, but this should not prevent us from getting together to craft a way forward," he said.
Minister Radebe added that the nation was invited to engage in constructive dialogue, so that together "we can work towards a common growth path".