The Portfolio Committee of Small Business Development has questioned the time it takes for policies to be implemented, warning that this has a severe negative impact on small businesses, and township and rural enterprises.
A parliamentary meeting was held on Wednesday between the portfolio committee and representatives from the Presidency, who briefed the committee on the Socio-Economic Impact and Assessment System (SEIAS).
SEIAS is a policy analysis tool which is aimed at strengthening policy and lawmaking.
According to Presidency Chief Director Pulane Kole the system assists the state to understand the positive and negative impacts of regulations on historically and economically disadvantaged groups like SMMEs, township and rural enterprises, the poor and those living in rural areas.
It is used by various departments throughout the process of formulating a bill or a piece of legislation before it is brought to Parliament.
Priorities of SEIAS include revitalising township and rural economies, facilitating investment in the country, and reducing red tape for market access.
She said that it normally took about a month for the feedback obtained from SEIAS to be analysed.
However, committee chairperson Sizani Siwela was not convinced and questioned why bills took so long to be implemented, given the understanding that it took the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition some years to transfer the powers of the Business Act to the Department of Small Business Development.
“If a policy bill can take so long to be implemented, (the government cannot) assist small businesses, which is the only sector that can create jobs (on a large scale),” she said.
“For example, if one enters office for a five-year term, and they start a bill and halfway through the process they are replaced and new faces come in, the progress is lost, and the issue of red tape and bureaucracy where people are denied rights is still unresolved.”
In response to Siwela’s concerns, Kole said that the issue of red tape was just one of the many challenges SMMEs faced that needed to be addressed through regulation and lawmaking.
“SMMEs also have challenges relating to land, especially township enterprises, as they cannot do manufacturing or agriculture because of challenges relating to accessing land,” she said.
“SMMEs also face issues of technology, safety, zoning and other broader challenges that need to be tackled.
“We need to look at the holistic challenges affecting SMMEs, such as crime, and ensure that we have a coherent approach in ensuring the development and sustainability of SMMEs,” Kole said.