The government’s red tape is stifling small businesses and the state must urgently deal with this, says Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Since taking over this portfolio, Ndabeni-Abrahams has been vocal about the issue of regulation and its impact on small enterprises. “The truth is we have not managed to do what the National Development Plan dictated to us to do,” she said at a meeting with SMMEs in Mossel Bay in the Western Cape.
“The responsibility of the state is to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive. “If we understand that, it means that we have a responsibility to join hands in tackling the red tape that small businesses face.” The minister reiterated that the government must make it easier for small businesses to access the state’s various intervention programmes.
“If we are going to be the ones that come up with processes and thick documents with English that is understood by those drafting them, then it means that we are not serving the constituency in a deserving manner,” she said. Ndabeni-Abrahams also encouraged SMMEs to highlight the various challenges they faced when dealing with government processes.
“The impact (of municipalities and government departments not catering to SMMEs) speaks to the understanding that when the municipality, for example, calls for an Integrated Development Plan meeting, residents can attend and tell them that it is a good plan, and also be able to say that if (the) said plan wants to exclude small businesses from it, that municipality must know that nobody will be able to pay rates and taxes because of that,” she said.
“This must also be a reminder that if municipalities continue to take business and give it to enterprises that are far away, those in power will one day lose power.” Ndabeni-Abrahams also called on government agencies to do what they are paid to do. “We should not take pleasure in saying that we declined applications because entrepreneurs took the initiative to apply, but we must focus on building on that initiative to see how best we can help that business become an employer,” she said.
The government has previously acknowledged that red tape needs to be cut for small businesses to flourish, with a unit being formed in the Presidency this year to reduce the impact of regulation, in order to benefit companies of all sizes and unleash growth and investment in the economy.