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South Africa's ANC wants tighter gov't hand on economy

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South Africa's ruling ANC wants greater government control over Africa's largest economy, a windfall levy on mining firms and a rapid expansion in the services offered by postal banks, it said in policy documents released on Monday.

The documents from the party that has ruled the country for the past 18 years will be used to frame debate when the African National Congress holds a policy meeting in June. Since it commands a comfortable majority in parliament, its policy recommendations are often turned into legislation.

"We need to ask ourselves whether simply more of the same will help us transform the economy so as to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty, inequality and growth," the party said.

The ANC did not offer a great deal of detail but said it wants to see state-owned enterprises be centres of job growth. It backs the government's plans to spend billions of dollars over the next several years on infrastructure projects to increase the enterprises' output and create employment.

Economists have said the ANC is looking in the wrong direction and should be doing more to support the private sector, which is subject to a raft of labour regulations seen as stifling job growth and ranked as among the globe's most restrictive by the World Economic Forum.

Almost all the state-owned enterprises have had management crises and financial difficulties in the past few years, raising questions about their ability to be drivers of growth.

The ANC said the country was rich in commodities, but that "the crucial mineral economic linkages were not being maximised and that the state was not receiving an equitable share of the resource rents."

The party has tried to reassure investors it is not seeking a government takeover of mines - a plan backed by some radical elements in the party.

It wants to impose a "resource rent tax" - effectively a windfall levy - of 50 percent that will kick in after investors have made a "reasonable return".

Once the resource rent tax is imposed, mineral royalty rates should be cut to one percent from the current sliding scale system, which caps royalties at 7 percent.

The party also wants to see certain of its projects put on a fast track, including giving a full banking licence to state postal banks and allocating government pension fund money to projects that will help economic development.

The Post Bank offers savings accounts and investment products, but does not offer a full range of retail banking services.