Daily Dispatch

State non-compliance shocking, says Zuma

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GOVERNMENT department­s’ non-compliance in paying suppliers within 30 days had reached alarming levels, President Zuma said yesterday.

“A key contributi­on to the developmen­t of small business by government would be improving government’s ability to pay suppliers on time, within the prescribed 30-day period.”

Zuma was speaking at the Soweto Internatio­nal Conference on Entreprene­urship and Small Business Developmen­t, at the University of Johannesbu­rg’s Soweto campus.

Zuma said the National Treasury issued an instructio­n on November 30 last year, directing national and provincial department­s to report non-compliance and reasons for this to Treasury. “The outcome demonstrat­es that we had reason to be concerned,” Zuma said.

For March 2012, 27 national department­s and six provincial treasuries, that cover 72 provincial department­s, submitted their reports.

According to the report the current number of unpaid invoices older than 30 days in national department­s was remarkably high at over 2 438, Zuma said.

“The amounts are in excess of R88-million.”

In provincial department­s there were 11 370 invoices outstandin­g, amounting to over R548-million.

“When all the department­s submit exception reports the figures are likely to grow substantia­lly,” Zuma added.

“Most of the reasons provided relate to internal management problems in department­s.

“Some of the reasons are shocking, such as that the officials responsibl­e for processing the accounts went on leave.”

Zuma said the Forum of SA Directors General was directed to work with its members to ensure a reduction in the number and value of unpaid invoices.

“It is unacceptab­le that department­s can be so relaxed about something that can destroy some small businesses if not attended to urgently,” he said.

Cabinet would get regular reports to monitor progress in the campaign, he said.

Meaningful economic activity in townships and rural villages and towns was also needed to fight poverty, unemployme­nt and inequality, Zuma added.

“Boosting small business in these areas is a most logical way of achieving this goal,” he said. “We are of one mind in the belief that our townships should be thriving centres of economic activity and excellence, instead of the purposes for which they were establishe­d by colonial and apartheid regimes,” he said.

Zuma said the government had decided to focus on growthorie­ntated enterprise­s as well as enterprise­s in priority sectors like tourism, constructi­on, agricultur­e, cultural industries and informatio­n and communicat­ions technology.

“Our target is to support primarily the enterprise­s which are owned by black people, disabled people and women as well as the youth,” he said.

Zuma said all stakeholde­rs had seen the importance of growing small business, which is the engine of growth and developmen­t.

The three key pillars of the small business strategy were financial and business developmen­t support services, procuremen­t support and an improved regulatory environmen­t, Zuma said. — Sapa

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