R9.5bn to boost business competitiveness

The Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan has allocated R9.5 billion over the next three years to boost businesses through competitiveness incentives and investment in technology, enterprise development and agriculture.

The bulk of this – R5.75bn – has been allocated to the Department of Trade and Industry as part of a manufacturing competitiveness enhancement programme which will kick off in April.

Added to this, R2.25bn has been set aside in incentives over the next three years for businesses that invest in special economic zones.

The remaining R1.5bn has been allocated to provincial and rural agricultural colleges (R150 million), the Agricultural Research Council (R400m), the Council for Geoscience (R200m) and the Council for Mineral Technology (R150m).

The Department of Science and Technology has also been allocated R350m of the R9.5bn to fund technology manufacturers, place graduates in small businesses and to commercialise new technology in nanotechnology, renewable energy and waste,, titanium and satellite development.

The manufacturing competitiveness enhancement programme will provide production and distressed funding support to boost productivity and competitiveness, raise investment and create jobs.

Businesses that invest in new machinery, plant and equipment, as well as in product development, process redesign, standards accreditation, and feasibility and marketing studies will qualify for the incentive.

The programme is aimed at labour-intensive sectors already covered by incentives –
including the clothing, textiles, leather and footwear and automotive sectors.

Incentives will target improvements to business conditions and productivity through skills development, business incubation, reducing red tape, technology transfers and adaptation and providing access to markets and logistics.

Last month, the Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies unveiled a new bill for special economic zones – which are an extension and improvement of the current industrial development zones.

Meanwhile, Gordhan said the second application round for funding under the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund would be announced shortly.

The fund, which is administered by the Development Bank of South Africa attracted 2 500 applications in its first call for proposals and project allocations of R1bn have so far been committed, he said.

Gordhan said the youth wage subsidy was under discussion at Nedlac, where labour had expressed some reservations. – BuaNews