Wednesday, 18 November 2015

DA supports the Small Business Development Portfolio Committee BRRR report

Small Business Development 
Portfolio Committee Budget Review & Recommendation Report
Declaration by Toby Chance, Shadow Minister
17th November 2015

Thank you House Chairperson.

Almost exactly a year ago I spoke at this podium about the excessive time it had taken the newly formed Department of Small Business Development to organise itself and begin to do its work.
I referred to it, and I quote, as “a phantom department, with no financial independence, few resources and contestations in Cabinet about who is responsible for the development of small business.”

Eighteen months after its birth, the infant department is still struggling to draw breath. With a permanent Director General only appointed in September, it has been crawling along with no clear vision, policy direction or visible achievements.

With a 25% staff vacancy rate and still no permanent CFO in place, the department is crippled through lack of capacity.

It was only in April this year that the Department of Public Service and Administration approved its structure and organogram. These, and its shoe-string budget, hardly inspire confidence that the government sees Minister Lindiwe Zulu or her department as the game-changer South  Africa needs to get our economy going.

The small business development community is longing for her to succeed. But it is yet to see any sign that its high hopes will be met.

Minister Zulu has frankly admitted to the Committee her frustration with her lack of resources. But that is no excuse for the department’s dismal performance. It has failed to meet any of the four objectives it set for itself in the 2014/15 financial year.

The department and its agencies, Sefa and Seda, achieved  clearn audits, which  is commendable but hardly sufficient to make a dent in South  Africa’s unacceptably high unemployment rate.

Minister Zulu should focus her mind with laser-like precision on creating the conditions for South Africa’s small business sector to thrive. Instead, she is distracted by irrelevancies such as the President al-Bashir debacle, internal ANC communications issues and picking fights with opposition MPs in this House.

Her indifference is evidenced by her failure to meet one-on-one with the Chairperson of Sefa, six months after she became its political master, to discuss strategy alignment between Sefa and her department.

It is no wonder Sefa continues to bleed tax payer’s money  without making a significant contribution to job creation.

Meanwhile Seda, which consumes 80% of the department’s budget, is practically invisible to the very people it should be targeting.

The BRRR is a hard-hitting summary of what has gone wrong this past year, and what the Department needs to do to become relevant and fulfil its mandate.

The DA supports the report.

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