By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The much hailed pro-poor , pro-growth budget announced in the National Assembly last week is a far cry from what is necessary for small business development and its growth in the country. This statement on the budget came from the Joint Consultative Council. “The budget must be analysed in more detail on how precisely poverty will be addressed because to the locally owned small and micro-enterprises it remains a far cry from what is necessary for their further growth. Not mentioning the necessary financial support in the establishment of newly entering businesses, their needs are not limited to financial support and }entoring. They need growth incentives and to form associations to survive competition from large businesses,” a statement from the organization of which the Minister of Trade and Industry, Immanuel Ngatjizeko is a patron, said. Since its inception in 1998 the JCC has observed various initiatives addressing poverty levels in the country. “Yet, the long term success of these development strategies that address the growth of the poor, specifically in the peri-urban and rural areas, are subject to significant financial commitments and broad-based multidisciplinary support delivered with limited, if not minimal resources. All players must come to appreciate that only concerted and combined efforts can succeed in the delivery of support services to SME’s. The JCC fears that poverty reduction will be out of reach if the initial investment appears not to warrant massive returns,” says the statement. It went on to say that much of the research done over years reveal that the issue of capacity shortfalls both in small businesses as well as in small business support organizations are enormous, and recommendations for concrete interventions from central government are still to be responded to. “The national budget still has to align itself with the impact it has created. As the voice of small businesses, the JCC asks for more transparency in the allocation of funding allocated to SME support as well as improved recognition of its services to the poor, and by so doing supporting government in addressing the plight of the poor.” The organization further expressed the desire to know whether growth is created through the creation of new SME’s and or the strengthening of existing SME’s? “Particularly frightening is the high poverty level in rural areas. If this budget should be pro-poor, the question then is how it addresses the plight of the poor in rural areas? Businesses in peri-urban or rural areas require greater levels of support than their counterparts in the capital with access to support services, though government’s decentralization policy intends to increase capacity at regional level. As much as the budget tries to address growth of the economy, yet, it is stringent in allocations and gives rarely indications on skills development in the regions,” the statement, claiming that the budget leaves much to be desired on the Government’s approach pertaining to SME development, said. Another burning issue to the JCC is the tax incentives for SME importers. “A recommendation to the Ministry of Finance would be to investigate the impact of such an incentive to the economy and the benefit it can have on the growth of local enterprises. The present budget also deserves greater detailing so that concrete support measures can be anticipated and later measured,” the statement concluded.
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