The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is pleased that a meeting arranged by the DA between a sub-contractor and the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara to discuss the delays in payments to small businesses by the main contractors, has resulted in one step closer to the sub-contractor rightfully getting payment for their services rendered.
This meeting comes after a recent budget vote debate in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), where the DA highlighted complaints received from an SMME sub-contractor at the George Mukhari Hospital, where the contractor unilaterally changed the rates it pays to sub-contractors without first discussing these proposed changes with the affected parties. During the meeting with the sub-contractor, the MEC stated that the contractor made a mistake in the contract and the contract allows for errors to be corrected.
The sub-contractor has waited months before they receive payment for work done for the Department of Infrastructure Development. While this meeting is a step in the right direction, the department has to do more to protect sub-contractors from unscrupulous contractors.
The DA has scrutinized the contract, which is binding and also states that rates cannot be changed. The unilateral changes of rates is an illegal and despicable act that can negatively affect the economic sustainability of another small business entrepreneur. This has resulted in the sub-contractor, a young black female, not being paid for three months for work already done. This not only put the SMME at risk of bankruptcy, but could lead to further job losses and ever-increasing unemployment levels, especially in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic.
The DA will continue to monitor speedy payment levels of invoices to protect small businesses. It is only when all political parties work together to protect contractors and small businesses from any behavior that puts businesses at risk, especially sub-contractors, that we will build trust and relationships that will make SMMEs feel secure and free from bullying tactics by unscrupulous contractors. SMMEs needs the support to grow and become competitive role players in the construction sector.
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