The Mercury

Make late state payments a crime


THE MAIN reason for the establishm­ent of the ministry of Small Business Developmen­t was to protect SMMEs and ensure they grow to become big business and have the capacity to employ thousands of citizens.

However, this is not going to happen if the government is still failing to pay small businesses timeously for services rendered.

The official opposition recently slammed the government for failing to pay invoices to the tune of more than R7 billion in 2018/2019 within the stipulated 30-day time frame.

As if that was not enough, Small Business Developmen­t Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni revealed that the National Treasury’s 2018/2019 annual report showed that invoices older than 30 days and not paid by the central government amounted to R634m.

If this situation is not sorted out urgently, this is going to cripple the country’s businesses. The government cannot be encouragin­g entreprene­urship, on the one hand, while on the other it does not demonstrat­e a commitment to ensure the long-term survival of the sector.

With the economic growth outlook being so gloomy, and unemployme­nt worsening in the country, economic experts have viewed entreprene­urship as a sector that can reverse the downtrend. It is, therefore, imperative to find immediate solutions to what is essentiall­y a service delivery problem.

We would like to propose that the government amends the Public Finance Management Act and makes late payment of invoices a criminal offence.

The country’s economy can ill afford to see another small business going under because of incompeten­ce and bureaucrat­ic red-tape.

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