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Inaugural National SMME policy colloquium gathers industry experts
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27 October 2014

The Small Business Development Institute (SBDI) in partnership with the South African Department of Small Business Development has announced the launch of the National SMME policy colloquium as a platform to effectively engage relevant and influential key stakeholders on SMME policy positions.

Johannesburg, 7 October 2014: With the aim of placing small and medium enterprises at the epicentre of accelerated growth and development, the SBID in conjunction with their strategic partners; South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT), South Africa Institute for Business Accountants (SAIBA) and the Black Business Council (BBC) have assembled an expert cast of thought leaders to apply their collective mind in building a robust policy environment that confronts the challenges that are hampering the development of the Small Medium Enterprise (SMME) sector.

South Africa needs to have a paradigm shift in its casual approach to SMME strategic development, according to CEO of the SBDI, Xolani Qubeka. “Whilst the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has done excellent work in this regard, through developing various programmes and support mechanisms, the lack of a national master plan renders most of these ineffective with little traction with the greater national economy. The National SMME policy colloquium provides an opportunity to debate and interrogate these issues collectively and comprehensively among important stakeholders and thought leaders.”

The National SMME policy colloquium was first mooted by the Davis Tax Committee last year, and referenced in the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech in February 2015, points out Stiaan Klue, Chief Executive of SAIT and their representative on this ministerial task team. “There is an urgent need to interrogate the shortfalls in current SMME policies, and to ensure that all important stakeholders are pulling in the same direction in an effort to align the growth and support of the SMME sector with the socio economic objectives set out in the National Development Plan.”

The Minister of Small Business, Lindiwe Zulu, concurs, “The time is now for us to intensify our efforts aimed at broadening participation in the economic mainstream of our country. We will pursue an aggressive entrepreneurship drive and create an enabling environment that will make it easy for South Africans, particularly the youth, women and people with disabilities to start and sustain their businesses.”

A lack of skilled staff, challenging economic conditions, complex tax regulations, difficult access to finance, and a relatively high cost of labour are the chief obstacles that many local small businesses face. By engaging with the country’s foremost thought leaders, the SBID is taking a strategic approach to coordinating different government and corporate initiatives that can accelerate the objectives of Governments SMME policy master plan.

According to Klue, taxation is not the silver bullet in addressing all the issues of small business development, but certain taxation policies can be amended in order to remove existing barriers and accelerate growth in this sector. “For instance, a long delay in processing tax clearance certificates can effectively kill off an entrepreneurial initiative, while issues like the cost of compliance need to be interrogated if the economy hopes to widen its tax base,” adds Klue.” South Africa enjoys a world class revenue authority and

SARS is cognisant of the crucial role they play in securing the foundation of our economy. SARS must be commended for their progress and for the forward thinking strategies they are employing such as the imminent introduction of electronic tax clearance certificates, by way of example.”

“There are strong sentiments and discussions around the state of the SMME sector as a result of existing gaps in the current SMME policy. We see the colloquium as the first step in a journey that seeks to positively influence the formulation of policies affecting SMMEs. Our aim is to work with policy makers to influence change where we can, to ensure that sustainable job creation and accelerated economic growth can be attained for long term prosperity,” says Qubeka.

The colloquium will be held in Johannesburg at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) from -21 -23 October 2014.

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