Parliament left frustrated over failure of small business department

The portfolio committee on small business development says is “extremely concerned” about the lack of capacity and poor performance by the department of small business development.

“Having exercised oversight on the department and held it accountable for the past three years, the committee has observed with grave concern the department’s failure to champion the development of small, medium and macro enterprises (SMMEs) as well as cooperatives to enable them create 9.9 million new jobs by 2030,” it said in a statement.

The committee said that  during a discussion on their shared responsibility to represent SMMEs and cooperatives to ensure that their needs are addressed, all members of the committee unanimously voiced their frustrations in relation to the work of the department.

The chairperson of the committee, Ruth Bhengu, said: “The pro-poor agenda of radical economic transformation is being compromised by the department of small business development, Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) and Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).”

In March this year the committee embarked on an oversight visit to Mpumalanga and discovered suspicious acts in the department’s Cooperative Incentive Scheme (CIS) and Sefa’s funding, thereby resulting in a resolution to probe further.

Although both the department and Sefa had committed to institute internal audits in response to recommendations of the committee, only the board of Sefa has conducted forensic investigation and will present the report to the committee next week Wednesday, 13 September 2017.

Earlier this year, in March, the Democratic Alliance noted that the department had under-spent its budget due to incapacity, poor programme implementation and problems with transferring functions from the department of trade and industry, despite minister Lindiwe Zulu calling for more money.

Zulu told the Mail & Guardian that her department needed R5 billion to carry out its mandate to empower emerging entrepreneurs.

Read: Minister fails to spend her budget – but wants more money anyway: DA

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Parliament left frustrated over failure of small business department