BBC raises small business concerns with department
ENGINEERING NEWS / 15 MAY 2020 - 16.55 / MARLENY ARNOLDI
The Black Business Council (BBC) and the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) on May 8 held a virtual meeting to discuss the relief measures implemented by the department in response to Covid-19 and the Small Business Master Plan.
The discussion was led by Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and BBC president Sandile Zungu.
The parties acknowledged the critical role that the National Development Plan envisaged for the small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) sector and the severity of the impact of the Covid-19 disaster on the sector.
Ntshavheni briefed the meeting about the various schemes of the DSBD that were intended to benefit SMMEs and mitigate against the knock-on effect of job losses, including the directive to also use the opportunity to transform the ownership patterns of the economy.
The BBC urged the department to ensure that the principles of broad-based black economic empowerment were embedded in the current work of supporting SMMEs.
Further, it assured the Minister of its support for her push for socioeconomic transformation of the economy to benefit all.
The BBC also expressed its appreciation of the extra R2-billion to support SMMEs, but emphasised the need to allocate more funds to support the work of the department in supporting SMMEs, more so when the economy was starting to reopen as the majority of small businesses may not be able to reopen without the active support of government.
Ntshavheni, in turn, implored the BBC to encourage their members and the SMMEs at large, to register on the national SMME portal as part of developing a comprehensive SMME portal for the country which would also strengthen government planning and guide critical resource allocation, a call which the BBC accepted.
The parties agreed that the Covid-19 crisis had exposed the country’s unsustainable reliance on imports in the supply of critical medical goods such as personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel.
The BBC asked the DSBD to fast-track its work in supporting SMMEs to manufacture PPE in the country and to commit to work for restrictions on the import of certain medical goods and supplies that could easily be produced locally.
The Minister informed the meeting that the Small Business Master Plan which the department was developing would be shared for public comment before it was submitted for approval by Cabinet.
In his concluding remarks, Zungu remarked that “we should take advantage of the crisis and use the opportunity created to come out of it in the new normal, an inclusive economy that is underpinned by socioeconomic transformation and a high level of localisation”.
Ntshavheni concluded by quoting President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking during a national address: “We are resolved not merely to return our economy to where it was before the Coronavirus, but to forge a new economy in a new global reality.”
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