Small Business Development portfolio committee meeting: Update on COVID response interventions and lessons learnt

3 June 2020

The Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, together with the Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour, expressed a concern on the number of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) that are assisted by the department through debt-relief programme. The Department of Small Business Development appeared before the committees to brief them on, among other things, progress made in the implementation of COVID–19 intervention measures for SMMEs and cooperatives in reference to business registrations on www.smmesa.gov.za for the Business Growth and Resilience Facility; Debt relief Fund and the Sefa-Debt Restructuring Facility.

The committees heard that the department received 35 865 applications from the SMMEs who applied for the debt-relief, only 14 451 were found to be complete. The incomplete ones were referred to SEDA for assistance. Those SMMEs that acquired loans from SEFA also qualify for a repayment holiday. The department has disbursed R530m in debt-relief funds by 28 May 2020 to only 1 501 SMMEs.

It is against this backdrop that the committees raised a serious concern with the department. A total of 13 000 SMMEs whose applications were found to be complete remain unfunded. The committees impressed upon the department the need to double its efforts in ensuring that funding to the remaining applicants is accelerated. Furthermore, the committees requested a breakdown per sector with regarding the funded SMMEs, as well as the amount spent thereof.

The committees were also briefed on the Spaza Shop Support programme in which R7 000 voucher is provided to Spaza shop owners to replenish stock. The committees heard that half of the amount is a grant and the other half is payable as an  interest-free loan. The department received 2 276 applications and only 702 of those were approved. This was another matter of concern to the committees.

The committees held the view that regular joint meetings should be held more often to get the status update from the department with regards to relief measures provided to the SMMEs.

Statement issued by the Parliamentary Communication Services

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