The Committee reviewed its report on the budget of the Department of Small Business Development. It raised concern about the lack of tracking mechanisms, which hampered their ability to conduct their oversight responsibilities.
The Gauteng province received praise from the Committee for dealing with small businesses in the townships, and other provinces were encouraged to learn from their example. The Committee was told that the Department had been allocated R416 million to devise a national small enterprise master plan; to establish a small enterprise ombud service; to review the Business Act and the definition of small, medium and micro enterprises; and to finalise amendments to the National Small Enterprise Act of 1996.
The Chairperson encouraged Members to work together and devise a plan that could support the President's call to create jobs to tackle the country's high unemployment rate. Members were concerned about the lack of support for rural and township entrepreneurs and the lack of accountability from the Department, since no list of those funded was supplied to the Committee.
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the virtual meeting and asked them to observe a moment of silence in memory of Hillary Gardee, daughter of the former EFF parliamentarian.
Committee Report on Budget Vote for the Department of Small Business Development
Mr Sibusiso Gumede, Committee Content Advisor, read the draft budget report to the Committee.
The Chairperson asked Members to engage with the draft report. She said that Gauteng Province had been doing some excellent work, and other provinces needed to look at their models in terms of small businesses.
Mr H Kruger (DA) welcomed the draft report and said it was comprehensive. However, he was concerned that the Auditor-General's (AG's) report was still outstanding. This must be noted for future observations because the Committee had not yet received the report. He recommended an ad hoc committee to deal with red-tape issues, as discussed in the previous meeting.
Mr D Mthenjane (EFF) welcomed the report and said that the work done by the researchers was excellent. He raised a concern about the township and rural entrepreneurship programmes and asked the Department to prioritise these areas, as they were affected by the lack of support. He added that the Department should revisit its criteria when they approved applications for funding because many small businesses were not receiving funding because of the difficult process. He encouraged the Department to prioritise women and the youth because they were the ones who were highly affected by the high unemployment numbers in the country.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mthenjane on the issue of an ad hoc committee and asked Mr Gumede to take note of the matter so that it would be discussed more.
Mr J De Villiers (DA) thanked Mr Gumede for the draft report, as it covered all the discussions and aspects of the Committee. He was concerned about funding allocation during the Covid-19 period because only a few businesses had received funding. He had asked the Department to provide the Committee with a list of applicants who had received funding. He was not pleased with how the matter had been conducted because the Committee would be told only the number of businesses which had benefited, but had not seen the list, nor did they know the names.
Mr G Hendricks (Al-Jama) agreed with previous speakers and added that the country would not achieve the jobs target. The Chairperson should apologise to the President because the Department was defiant and would not deliver the country's needs.
Mr F Jacobs (ANC) welcomed the draft report and said that all the recommendations laid a good foundation for what must be done by the Department. He emphasised that the Committee should make a checklist of the recommendations to keep track of what had been completed and what had not. Consequence management was of high importance and should also be addressed. He encouraged the Committee to reach out to the private sector to work together and have a social compact around the country because the Department could not do all the work by itself. He said that there were a lot of organisations, especially in the townships, and the Department should work with them to create jobs. He was pleased about the Township Economy Bill and said that the Committee must work to ensure the Bill was passed. He highlighted the importance of bringing government services closer to communities so that people could have access. He also said that there was a need for accountability, especially regarding funding.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their contributions and suggested that the Committee must come up with an oversight programme so that they could make their own assessments. The Committee must be able to track the progress of the Department and every Member must participate in holding it accountable.
She was concerned about corruption because nothing was done about such matters. She suggested that the Committee must have input on consequence management matters instead of waiting for feedback from the Department, since it had the power to make certain decisions.
She agreed with the views raised by Mr Hendricks and said that the Committee should assist the President in realising the targets set. The Committee needed to look at the Legacy Report and see how they could move forward because they must bring proposals as a Committee on tackling the issues, especially job creation. She was pleased with how the Members had shown concern in dealing with the job creation issues around the country and said that they must continue with the fighting spirit so that the Department would also take them seriously. There was also a need to work closely with co-operatives.
Ms M Lubengo (ANC) said that the Members had highlighted all her concerns and added that there was a need to have a list of those who had received funding so that the Committee could do their oversight.
Mr Gumede added that in the previous meetings, Members requested some of the information, and recommendations were specific as to what the Committee wanted from the Department. They would like to have a presentation from the Department to resolve matters before the end of the Sixth Parliament. He also suggested Members send a list of co-operatives to the Committee secretary so that they could be invited to some of the meetings because this would help in working with communities. He said that the tracking tool was being resuscitated to make the Committee's work easier, and it would be circulated amongst the members.
Mr Gumede said that the Department was of the view that the Committee was not allowed to receive lists of funding because of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), but believed that this was wrong, and maybe the Committee should approach the legal department for an opinion on how to deal with the matter.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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