By: Zandile Majavu
Finance Minister Enoch Godogwana has invited South Africans to share their inputs ahead of the 2024 Budget speech in February, with various business associations saying that the SME sector must not be left out. National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Gilbert Mosena warned that “now that we are heading towards elections, probably the allocation will no longer be rational; now it will be a rushed quick fix situation.”.
Despite this, Mosena said that the government should pump more money into the SMME sector because the current economic situation is unbearable. This situation was worsened by soaring prices such as food and fuel. “Our people make a living out of their small businesses. Some do not have access to funding in a very conventional way because they have informal businesses, and some must get funding from the Small Enterprise Finance Agency or the National Empowerment Fund, which is a cumbersome process,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Small Business & Cooperative Association spokesperson Thabang Baloyi complained that while businesses and households had been promised a 25% rebate for acquiring and installing solar panels, this had not occurred. “Fuel continues to be one of the biggest costs of running a business, and the government should reduce fuel levies as fuel continues to increase more than it reduces. “Diesel subsidies for businesses due to load-shedding schedules disrupt production and thus cost a business enormously. During load-shedding, the business incurs tremendous costs on diesel for running generators that kicks in 30 seconds after the power goes off,” he said.
Business Partners Limited regional manager David Morobe commented that he was crossing his fingers that SMEs would receive subsidies, especially those that bore the brunt of load-shedding and were unable to access alternative energy sources. “The budget speech should also create incentives for the SMEs that are creating jobs and alleviating unemployment by taking people as apprentices in their businesses,” Morobe added. While SMMEs are hopeful about the budget, Godongwana has already hinted at further budget restrictions. Inputs and suggestions for the budget close on February 11.