Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Section 25 of the constitution and expropriation without compensation

On Saturday I attended the hearings on amending Section 25 of the constitution at Heartfelt Hall in Tshwane where a long line of people offered their opinions on the topic. I later learned from Glynnis Breytenbach that many of the EFF submissions came from the same people who had appeared at other hearings. While the highest quantity of submissions were for amending the constitution the best and most cogent arguments came from those opposed. I was joined by my colleagues Patrick Atkinson, Sej Motou and Anchen Dreyer, and earlier in the day Darren Bergman, Glynnis and Ghaleb Cachalia.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Opinion piece - Evidence points to marginalised small business sector

Three recently released reports paint a dismal picture of the contribution small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are making to the economy. They are a wake-up call for policy-makers who assume that SMEs are the main jobs drivers and will create 90% of new jobs by 2030.

Compared to its peers, South Africa has a smaller number of firms in proportion to the size of the economy and a much higher proportion of jobs coming from large firms and government. With smaller firms closing down and shedding jobs, and larger firms getting bigger though not necessarily hiring more people, it is inevitable our unemployment rate will increase further.

The reports focus on the formal SME sector and extract data from Treasury, SARS, commercial banks and other providers of finance as well as firms seeking finance. They each claim, in their respective focus areas, to be the most comprehensive studies yet done.

They home in on changes in tax receipts over time, access to finance and the quantum of firms and their contribution to employment to gauge whether the sector is making its expected contribution to the economy and participants are succeeding or struggling.

Letter to Business Day on why business should prioritise late payments

Yesterday's editorial in Business Day asked the question, is lip service paid to the SME sector? The answer is a resounding YES, for all sorts of reasons the editorial refers to. You can read it here.

This prompted me to write to the Editor to highlight one of the biggest burdens small businesses have to bear - late payments by customers.  You can read my letter here or below.

At the SBI Indaba last week Chairman of BLSA and the CEO Initiative Jabu Mabuza said late payments is an issue big business has to deal with. My question to him and new BUSA chair, Sipho Pityana is: when and how? If they don't give a clear direction on this issue soon I will be requesting the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development to summon them to account in Parliament in our next term beginning in August.

Dealing effectively with late payments is the flip side of introducing a small business ombudsman, contained in a bill I tabled in Parliament in May. We have to deal with the source of the problem - putting our payments house in order - but also have a back-stop mechanism that deters offenders from repeatedly abusing their suppliers in the first place.

Letter to the Speaker of Parliament about late payment of suppliers

On Friday I wrote to the Speaker of Parliament drawing her attention to the late payment of Duma Travel, which services MPs and Parliamentary staff travel needs. This follows an email I sent to Parliament's Chief Financial Officer last week after I received a tip off that Duma was owed hundreds of thousands of rands. It seems it could have had some effect - since then Parliament has paid around R700 000 to Duma, though over R800 000 is still outstanding.

You can read my letter below.

27 July 2018
Hon B Mbete MP                                            
Speaker of the National Assembly
Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Dear Madam Speaker
I am writing to you to request an urgent intervention with regards to late payment by Parliament to one of its suppliers.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Interview with The New Economic Rights Alliance about my Ombudsman bill

I  recently conducted an interview with Scott Cundhill of the New Economic Rights Alliance about my bill tabled in Parliament to establish a small enterprises ombud service to resolve disputes involving SMEs.

You can listen to the interview here.

Scott has created a very innovative website which helps small businesses get their invoices paid on time. It's called the Gentle Reminders Club and uses the power of peer pressure and publically displayed ratings of customers' payment records. It's a very neat solution to deal with the problem of late payments at source and business should support it wholeheartedly.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Letter to The Star about late payments of government suppliers

Yesterday's Star newspaper carried my letter to the editor following a front page expose in Monday's paper about government failing to pay its suppliers.

Read the letter below:

Give the small guys a chance
Toby Chance MP

The Star article published on the 9th of July 2018 titled “State’s R7 billion debt headache” refers. It is inconceivable how, in an economy which is struggling to create jobs, government departments are failing to pay suppliers and small businesses on time for services rendered.

Reports that the state is sitting on 93 000 unpaid invoices highlights a government that does not care about the sustainability of small businesses or the jobs of thousands of South Africans who rely on them to feed their families.