Small business department carries heavy weight

Despite what its name implies, the department of small business development has a mammoth task on its hands. 

This was the thrust of the keynote address delivered by the department’s minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, at a breakfast event hosted by the ANC-affiliated Progressive Business Forum (PBF) on the sidelines of the party’s 55th elective conference.

The National Development Plan (NDP), Ndabeni-Abrahams noted, envisages that small businesses create 90% of the 11 million jobs that need to be added to the economy by 2030. These businesses are also expected to propel the economy to 5% annual growth by that year.

Considering South Africa’s economic growth rate, as well as slow labour market gains, the country is way off the mark from achieving the NDP targets. But Ndabeni-Abrahams said the 5% growth is achievable, especially if the government’s structural reforms are seen through.

She outlined some of the interventions pursued by her department to improve the operating environment for small business owners. 

These include putting a cap on the amount informal traders pay for licences to municipalities, scrapping the requirement for co-operatives to submit audited financial statements and integrating the requirements by the South African Revenue Service and the Companies And Intellectual Property Commission. The latter intervention would mean that business owners no longer have to run between the two agencies to be fully compliant.

Like Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, who addressed a PBF event on Saturday, Ndabeni-Abrahams assured her audience that the ANC would see through its economic policies, regardless of the outcome of the leadership race.

Hours later, Cyril Ramaphosa was re-elected the president of the ANC by a comfortable margin. Five of his slate were elected to the ANC’s top seven leadership positions, signalling that the president may have a strong hand in pushing forward his economic reforms.

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