Zuma’s doing business

2010-05-08 08:14

President Jacob Zuma’s government is making steady progress in

paying small businesses which provide it with goods and services within 30 days

of them having completed the jobs.

The Public Sector SMME Payment Assistance Hotline, which started

operating last September, helps facilitate the payments. It has already

disbursed R40 million in delayed payments to 3 100 small businesses. Only

250 of the businesses that called the hotline are still owed money.

City Press polled business

organisations to take their pulse on the first anniversary of the Zuma


“The emphasis on better delivery and greater accountability is

welcomed, but faster progress needs to be made in spheres that seriously matter

to economic performance, such as state-owned enterprises and local government

efficiency,” said Business Unity SA chief

executive Jerry Vilakazi.

Another success the business

community points to is the establishment of the BEE ­advisory council – but

business people are not satisfied with the lack of

clarity on policy and co-ordination.

“The lines are blurred and it is easy for the trade and industry

department, the National Planning Commission, economic development and the

national treasury to interfere with each other’s duties,” said Eskom economist

Mandla Maleka.

He said even the government’s policy proposal to incentivise

companies hiring youth had not yet been drafted, despite the treasury’s promise

to release it in March.

Maleka noted that strongest growth in the economy had been in the

services sector, an industry in which most youth could not get jobs due to its

demand for skills.

“The economy needs to be developed so that more youth can easily

become artisans, teachers and nurses,” Maleka said.

Small business analyst Khethiwe

Kubheka said government support for youth-owned small businesses was in a state

of paralysis.

“The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has existed for 11

months, but the organisation is yet to offer funding to young entrepreneurs,”

said Kubheka.

She said service providers that worked with the NYDA’s predecessor,

the Umsobomvu Youth Fund, were going belly up as the ­NYDA appeared to have

suspended servicing small businesses.

“Money is being spent on the agency’s operations but not on funding

youth-owned businesses,” said Kubheka.

Foundation for African Business and

Consumer Services president Mxolisi Zwane said the government needed to consult

small business chambers before forming

institutions like the planning commission and the BEE advisory council, because

they had an effect on small businesses.

Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said Zuma’s government had failed

to prevent the high job losses, despite evidence the recession was going to pose

major challenges.

Dlamini said ways should have been found to avoid the high

electricity tariffs, especially for the poor.

“With consumer demand shrinking, how are companies expected to

afford the high electricity prices without retrenching workers?” he asked.

Dlamini said the government’s training layoff scheme programme,

created for upskilling the retrenched, is a disaster as it had absorbed only

15 000 people while 833 000 jobs had been lost.

Dlamini said Zuma had led a smooth transition to a new government ,

especially after the formation of new departments and the employment of

inexperienced ministers.

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