Bud­get should pri­ori­tise SMEs, in­for­mal sec­tor

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

In a snap sur­vey, SMEs and in­for­mal sec­tor en­trepreneurs from Mata­bele­land re­gion said they were con­tin­u­ously ig­nored in fis­cal pol­icy. En­trepreneurs were speak­ing in the af­ter­math of the 2017 pre-bud­get con­sul­ta­tions, which were held un­der the theme “En­hanc­ing trans­for­ma­tive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment through do­mes­tic re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion and util­i­sa­tion.” Trea­sury is ex­pected to present the 2017 bud­get on De­cem­ber 8, 2016.

Mollen Ndlovu, a poul­try farmer from Hwange, said the Gov­ern­ment was over­look­ing and tak­ing in­for­mal sec­tor con­cerns for granted.

“SMEs re­ceive money from the Gov­ern­ment but those at the top ig­nore the needs of those at the grass­roots,” Ndlovu said. “We are made to be­lieve that we are marginalised as funds are dis­trib­uted and only a few cor­rupt in­di­vid­u­als get them. The same peo­ple get fund­ing ev­ery year, which is un­fair.”

She added: “A num­ber of SMEs around the coun­try no longer have in­ter­est in the na­tional bud­get meet­ings as they feel that their con­cerns are not be­ing ad­dressed in any of the pre­vi­ous bud­gets.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa, SMEs play a key role in the econ­omy, em­ploy­ing about 60 per­cent of the coun­try’s work­force and con­tribut­ing about 50 per­cent of the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, the value of goods and ser­vices pro­duced dur­ing the year.

In the 2016 bud­get, the Gov­ern­ment vowed to sup­port SMEs and re­solve peren­nial chal­lenges such as lack of fi­nanc­ing, in­fras­truc­ture, tech­nol­ogy, mar­ket­ing, as well as man­age­ment and en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills.

The 2016 bud­get was sup­posed to pro­vide sup­port to the SME sec­tor in key ar­eas, in­clud­ing the SME bank, up­grad­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills, im­prov­ing mar­ket ac­cess through busi­ness to busi­ness link­ages and fa­cil­i­tat­ing trade pro­mo­tion and co­op­er­a­tives de­vel­op­ment.

Ndlovu said the Gov­ern­ment should work on con­trol­ling bank charges, which dis­cour­age SMEs from bank­ing. “Small busi­nesses do not bank their money in fear that they will not get it back due to with­drawal lim­its and the cash cri­sis. Small traders have no vi­able mar­ket and the Gov­ern­ment should work on im­prov­ing that,” she added.

The en­trepreneurs said the Gov­ern­ment viewed SMEs chal­lenges uni­formly de­spite the fact that prob­lems dif­fered ac­cord­ing to geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tions.

“Our views are al­ways crushed as the Gov­ern­ment claims that prob­lems are uni­form when ge­o­graph­i­cally they are not the same,” Ndlovu added. “Hwange is

Raf­fected heav­ily due to fac­tors such as the indi­geni­sa­tion of coal mines, which has led to un­em­ploy­ment and un­der­de­vel­op­ment of our town.”

Mehluli Nkomo, a cross border trader from Lu­pane, said the Gov­ern­ment should adopt a bot­tom-up ap­proach in its bud­get con­sul­ta­tions, in which smallscale busi­ness peo­ple can suggest what they think should be im­proved with­out the Gov­ern­ment telling them of ex­ist­ing poli­cies.

“The bud­get con­sul­ta­tions must be spear­headed by mem­bers of Par­lia­ment who have to in­form the com­mu­nity on what the meet­ings are all about so that peo­ple feel the need to at­tend,” said Nkomo.”

An­other small busi­ness trader, Noah Tshuma, said the 2017 bud­get should ex­plore ven­tures that would re­vive the econ­omy and con­trib­ute to the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct, a crit­i­cal mea­sure of a vi­able econ­omy.

“The 2016 bud­get has elapsed with empty prom­ises, there­fore the 2017 bud­get should be premised on re­viv­ing the econ­omy and strate­gies on how best we can re­vive it,” Tshuma said.

He added: “Among the per­ti­nent is­sues to be dis­cussed are re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of the lo­cal in­dus­try so as to cre­ate em­ploy­ment and to re­store the coun­try’s eco­nomic sta­tus in the re­gion.”

A busi­ness woman, who im­ports and sells goods, Siphiwe Mumba, said the Gov­ern­ment should sup­port SMEs by fa­cil­i­tat­ing loans to un­em­ployed peo­ple who have solid busi­ness pro­pos­als.

“The Gov­ern­ment should help with fi­nances, es­pe­cially for women; they try to make ends meet, but with­out cap­i­tal ev­ery­thing is put on hold,” Mumba said. “The Gov­ern­ment should equip in­di­vid­u­als with skills and fre­quently hold work­shops teach­ing peo­ple to start busi­nesses with lit­tle money. Cross border traders should be al­lowed to cross the border and buy their wares as long as they have the money to de­clare their goods.”

How­ever, an econ­o­mist, John Robert­son, said in­for­mal sec­tor en­trepreneurs were de­mand­ing to be part of bud­get talks, yet they chose not to be for­mal play­ers in the econ­omy.

He said: “I be­lieve that tax­pay­ers should have a say in the bud­get; SMEs and the in­for­mal sec­tor shun taxes, so it’s next to im­pos­si­ble to have them say any­thing about tax­pay­ers’ money”.

The Min­is­ter of SMEs Sithembiso Ny­oni has said the Gov­ern­ment was work­ing on for­mal­is­ing the in­for­mal sec­tor with the hope en­hanc­ing their chances of ac­cess­ing fund­ing to boost their busi­nesses and con­tribut­ing tax to Gov­ern­ment.

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