Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, was pleased by reforms announced by finance minister Malusi Gigaba when he tabled his maiden Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament on Wednesday.
In the MTBPS, Gigaba said that government was setting up an R1.5 billion Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) fund which will soon be operational, and a Youth Employment Service (YES) initiative to bring close to one million young South Africans into internship over the next three years.
Zulu said she was pleased by these announcements because SMEs were finally being recognised.
“I have worked very hard to get where I am right now in as far as fighting for attention to small and medium enterprises. I am scaling the support for SMEs. You heard how many times the minister of finance kept on referring to SMEs, to innovators, and to young, black and women-owned enterprises” Zulu said.
“But let us not forget the fact that this budget is about addressing the challenges that face black people. For me, the majority of black people who are out there who have not yet seen themselves in the mainstream economy of the country, it speaks to those people that I serve.”
Zulu also said that though she was concerned that her ministry’s budget had been cut to finance other departments, South Africa’s weak economic growth was not unique to the country as the world is still recovering from the international financial crisis.
South Africa slashed its projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for 2017 by almost half, from 1.3% forecast in the February budget to 0.7%, as a result of continued decline in business and consumer confidence that has gathered pace since 2014.