President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday closed the two-day SA Investment Conference (SAIC) with a total sum of R363 billion pledged by local and international investors.
The pledges, made towards many projects, were R73 million more compared with the R290 billion raised at the SAIC inaugural gathering last year.
In his address at the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) leg of the conference held at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus, Ramaphosa lashed out at some government officials who, he said, had failed small entrepreneurs by not paying them timeously.
“As we conclude the second South Africa Investment Conference, forging ahead with plans to raise R1.2 trillion in new domestic and foreign investment over five years, we must consider how to better showcase the investment potential of our SMMEs,” said Ramaphosa.
“In our many engagements with the sector – mainly through the department of small business development – concerns have been raised by SMME owners and operators on access to financing, late payment for services rendered to government, a high regulatory burden, lack of access to information, economic infrastructure, rising fuel and utility costs, among other things,” Ramaphosa said.
“These challenges severely impact the viability of SMMEs and even force some out of business.
“Sometimes, payment to the SMME businesses is stopped or delayed by some government officials due to bureaucracy or corruption by backhanders.
“Working with social partners, we remain committed to improving the legal and regulatory environment in which the SMME sector operates.
“We are ensuring access to markets, finance, skills training, and access to quality infrastructure for SMMEs, especially in townships and rural areas.
“Under the soon-to-be finalised Public Procurement Bill, organs of state will be required to subcontract SMMEs to a minimum of 30% of the value of the contract for contracts above R30 million.
“Whoever receives a tender must subcontract a minimum of 30% of the value of the contract to SMMEs that are at least 51% black-owned. Government will strengthen monitoring and compliance through the office of the chief procurement officer.”
Ramaphosa said government wanted to promote local production to the benefit of SMMEs through the procurement of designated products – deepening public participation.
“The tax regime for SMMEs is being simplified. An example of this is the requirement for annual, rather than biannual tax returns.
“Grants received by SMMEs are also tax-exempt. Enhancements have also been made to the venture capital company tax regime to encourage investment in small businesses and junior mining companies,” said Ramaphosa.
The time, said Ramaphosa, was “upon us to reignite the township economy for the purpose of growing an inclusive economy”.
He said the Township Entrepreneurship Fund he announced earlier in the year, aimed at stimulating the township economy and creating dynamic markets in high opportunity sectors, was being finalised by the minister of small business development.
“With the local and global economy under pressure, it is small enterprises that present the greatest potential. But despite SMMEs being fundamental to the growth of our economy, they are often overlooked when it comes to both government planning and investment.”