Monday, 11 November 2019

My article in Business Day on why the DA must embrace the entrepreneurial class and exports

Today's Business Day carries my article on two "killer app" economic policies for the DA - please enjoy!

Hundreds of people turned up at Hyde Park Corner mall to hear Mcebisi Jonas launch his book After Dawn in August. The allusion to dawn was not missed, coming eighteen months after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘New Dawn’ state of the nation speech which did so much to raise the hopes of our nation.

Things are a lot darker now, and not just because the ratings agencies are scouring the horizon for signs of an economic upturn, finding little but thunder clouds. Their assessments are met with determined statements of intent that we must “do better” but with little of the political will required to underpin hopes with a realistic plan.


Monday, 14 October 2019

Why has getting Brexit done been so difficult? - Lord Hill in conversation with Toby Chance

Last week I had a fascinating conversation with my friend Jonathan Hill, who I've known since our student days at Cambridge University. The last time we were together in SA was in 1989, when he and his new wife Alex came for a three week holiday. We recalled how we spent Christmas Eve in Durban watching the toppling of Nicolae Ceaușescu, president of Romania, and his execution, along with his wife, the following day. It was a symbolic moment in the collapse of communism in the USSR and eastern Europe.

South Africa was about to experience its own brand of freedom, with President de Klerk announcing the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela a few weeks later.

Now Britain, of all the least expected countries, is undergoing a political crisis, with the traumatic process of withdrawing from the EU inflaming tensions across the country. In trying to make sense of it all, I was keen to hear Jonathan's views, which are published in today's Daily Maverick - you can read the interview here or in full below.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Measuring the informal economy - stats and impact: the debate continues

GG Alcock's article in BizNews, his interview with Alec Hogg, my response and his riposte, and the Editor's Desk discussion between Alec and Felicity Duncan, have stimulated a lively discussion on how we measure the informal economy and what its impact is on SA's GDP, unemployment and growth.

BizNews has followed this up with a summary of the comments and points made by readers.

Long may this discussion continue, and hopefully it will filter through to the Treasury and Stats SA where the capacity and expertise lies to do the heavy lifting.

It is interesting that the Treasury's economic growth strategy document released yesterday with an accompanying press statement places great emphasis on the role SMEs will and must play in our growth. Many of its recommendations come straight out of work I did with my colleague Henro Kruger in the 5th term of Parliament between 2014 and 2019 - including his Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill, my Small Enterprises Ombud Service Bill, our focus on late payments and early-stage funding for SMEs, the need to exempt SMEs from regulations and bargaining council extensions and focus on exports, amongst others.

One topic it does not dwell on is the role of the informal economy in the broader economy. I will be sending my comments to the Treasury on this and other matters. Send comments to Rita.Coetzee@treasury.gov.za

Friday, 23 August 2019

Response to GG Alcock - shattering the myth of high unemployment rate, BizNews

Today, BizNews published my response to an article by GG Alcock which got a lot of reader comments (both positive and negative), due to its contrarian views on the state of the informal economy in SA. I have read both GG's books (Kasinomics and Kasinomic Revolution) and loved them both, and have met with him several times over a coffee to discuss various aspects of the entrepreneurial space. I have no gripes on his point that the informal economy is more alive than most people give it credit for, but was moved to respond in the context of SA's broader development and growth agenda, which his argument fails to address, in my view.

I will read the readers' comments with interest, this discussion has a long way to go.

You can read it on BizNews here or read it in full below.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Reflections on the election and my legacy of five years as Shadow Minister of Small Business Development


Over three months have passed since the election and the end of my five year term in Parliament. I had hoped to return for another five year term but the party had other ideas.

After the DA's poor electoral performance, in which its share of the vote dropped and the Parliamentary caucus went from 89 to 84, a three-man review panel was set up to look into the reasons why and what reforms the party should consider to bring it back to a growth path. So far, there has been zero accountability in the senior echelons of the party, with the exception of the resignation of Jonathan Moakes, the campaign director and former CEO. Instead, the leadership have taken "collective responsibility" for the first drop in the DA's national vote since 1994 - language which we associated with the ANC, not the DA, where personal accountability has always trumped the collective. Not any more, it seems.

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Financial Mail endorses the DA's economic policy, positive comments about approach to small business


This week's Financial Mail gives a strong thumbs up to the DA's economic policy, in its lengthy cover story by economics writer Claire Bisseker.

In her article she quotes Lumkile Mondi, who chaired the panel discussion I sat on at the SBI Indaba two weeks ago.

"Wits economics lecturer Lumkile Mondi chaired a recent panel discussion organised by the Small Business Institute in which the main parties were invited to present their policies for supporting the SME sector.

In Mondi’s view, the ANC "disadvantaged itself" by being unable to say what it would do differently, while the EFF offered no policies of its own and simply claimed it would do a better job of implementing the ANC’s if it were in power.

The DA had "a very good story to tell", however, based on its approach of boosting SMEs through deregulation."

I must say I am chuffed to have got his approval for my comments.

Bisseker also quotes my colleague and DA spokesman on jobs, Geordin Hill-Lewis as follows:

"...the DA would improve the operating environment for small firms by ensuring government departments pay them in 21 days, not the current 30. It would also exempt SMEs from most labour and employment equity legislation, reduce red tape and return to sector-specific minimum wages with a new minimum floor of R1,780 a month. "We need a recalibration of the power relationship between big unions and small businesses," says Hill-Lewis. "Shop-floor strike ballots should be mandatory and bargaining council agreements should not be imposed on small businesses which are not represented. These two reforms alone would go a long way in forcing the two towards a better working relationship."

The DA's policy on small business outlined in our manifesto has won the approval of most commentators. I am proud to have played a significant hand in writing it. 

Letter in Business Day about corruption in the Dept Small Business Development

Yesterday's online version of Business Day publishes my letter about rampant corruption in the Department of Small Business Development. It seems corruption is now everywhere. People laud Minister Rob Davies for his sound management of the Department of Trade and Industry which he has run since 2009 but under his watch corruption has spread like a cancer and Minister Zulu has done nothing to stop it after inheriting the "small bits" of the DTI when her department was set up in 2014.

Until now. Last month she suspended nine officials on the strength of an Auditor General's report, and I hope this will be just the start of a cleanup process to root out corruption entirely.

You can read the letter here or below for non-subscribers to BusinessLive.


Minister Zulu must release the Auditor General’s report on corruption in her department and initiate lifestyle audits on all her officials
25th April 2019
  
Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, must release the Auditor General’s report on its investigation into corruption by officials in her department which was finalised in March. She must also initiate lifestyle audits on all department staff, many of whom are living lifestyles way beyond what their salaries would afford.