The Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, has told the Select Committee on Economic Business Development that her department is championing the cause of South African small businesses.

“Small business issues were not adequately addressed while the department was housed at the Department of Trade and Industry. In two and half years we have engaged on advocacy programmes to champion the cause of small business,” Minister Zulu said.

She led a strong delegation that came to brief Parliament on the department’s annual report. The department again this year achieved a clean audit and is among those departments that honour the 30-day payment period to service providers.

She said the department is operating within the framework of the National Development Plan which, if correctly implemented, could result in the country realising 5% economic growth and 11 million jobs by 2030.

She outlined a number of projects that the department is involved in, including agricultural projects, such as an SAB Miller initiative, the Crop 16 yield, and the best performing cooperatives initiative.

Committee Member Eddie Makue asked about the impact of development zones on small businesses and also wanted to know if anything was being done about foreign-owned shops that established cooperatives in an attempt to avoid paying taxes.

Committee Chairperson Mr Mandla Rayi wanted to know if there was coordination among departments when it came to promoting small businesses. He also asked for comparisons with international standards and if the budget supported goals set.

Other members wanted to know about the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in producing the required entrepreneurial skills. Members also asked about corruption and how it impacted on small business, and the role of the Development Bank.

Minister Zulu replied that corruption and collusion especially in the construction sector is a complicated web that government should deal with decisively. “Big companies are taking advantage of the fact that small and black-owned companies are struggling. It is the small businesses that are at the heart of the thriving economies, such as India and China. The small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) out there are trying, but the lending conditions are difficult and should be revisited. In the last financial year, about 18 000 SMMEs registered for tax collection.”

She said it would be unacceptable for foreign nationals to establish co-operatives simply to escape taxes.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa