The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the establishment of a Debt Relief Fund and Business Resilience Facility in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we require clarity on important aspects.
We will be writing to Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni to request clarification and elaboration from her office on what the Department of Small Business Development (DSBD) means that “…the applicant must demonstrate direct link of the impact or potential impact of COVID-19 on the business operations…” in order for SMMEs to be eligible for assistance.
In order to ensure optimal outcomes for this Fund and Facility, it is vital that their processes are not ensnared in red tape. We need a commitment that applications will be handled swiftly, within 72 hours, and that approved beneficiaries will receive payment speedily.
In addition, we note that the value of the Fund and Facility was not announced. Clarity is also vital in this regard, even if the figure is provisional and subject to change over time, so that the Department can avoid unrealistic expectations on the part of SMMEs.
We will also enquire whether the Minister and her Department are involved in any talks between government and business to facilitate public-private partnerships that can leverage private sector resources to contribute to efforts to increase business resilience and protect jobs during this Covid-19 pandemic and in its aftermath.
It is imperative that social partners work together in order to face this difficult time in our country. It will take nothing less than a “whole of society” approach for all of us to get through this.
We reiterate the DA’s availability and willingness to contribute to the Department’s efforts to address this national emergency as it affects the Small Business Development portfolio.