SMME ministry will add red tape

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The government’s intention to create a ministry for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) will merely institute more red tape and uncompetitive business practices.

It should focus on its own management responsibilities rather than on regulating entrepreneurs and business people. While the government may have good intentions with the establishment of an SMME ministry, its record in this matter shows that similar initiatives have been a cover-up for the creation of opportunities for ANC cadres. The National Youth Development Agency is a prime example of a failed government initiative to support and stimulate small businesses.

The government’s two most important responsibilities towards the business community are the creation of a stable macroeconomic environment and the creation of a fair and empowering microeconomic environment.

While the state has seen a fair amount of success during the past 20 years in respect of the macroeconomic environment, it is failing abysmally to create a healthy microeconomic environment (a business-friendly environment). To be able to do this, the government must focus on the following:

n All ownership rights of companies and individuals must be respected;

n Eradicate crime and corruption; and

n Policy which leads to unfair competition, such as black economic empowerment (BEE), must be scrapped.

The biggest stumbling block to a healthy business environment is the unintentional results of BEE. Examples are nepotism, corruption, delivery of sub-standard goods and services at inflated prices, and the eroding of ownership rights.

The best way for the government to support small and medium-sized business owners, regardless of race, is by scrapping limiting legislation. Entrepreneurs need a business environment in which they can compete freely and fairly.

Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg

Chief executive, AfriBusiness

Bonamour should read own newspaper article

If Andrew Bonamour, the chief executive of the Times Media Group, has doubts about the pain and suffering he is inflicting on his group’s pensioners by “freezing” the company’s contributions to their medical aid subsidy, I suggest he reads the piece on page 11 of his own newspaper (Sunday Times, April 13). To quote from the report, headlined “Cash-shy consumers cut back medical aid”:

n Thousands of South Africans are taking a gamble on their health insurance by switching to cheaper medical aid options;

n With annual pay increases shrinking and medical aids increasing their fees each January, embattled consumers are cutting back on their health cover;

n 45 000 main members from six of South Africa’s major schemes have opted for reduced cover from January this year.

When his company, out of the blue, bluntly advised pensioners that the medical aid subsidy would be frozen effective from January 1, 2014, I wrote to Bonamour to express my dismay and concern at the decision not to increase the post-retirement medical aid subsidy – “a decision that would, no doubt, place many less well-off pensioners under severe economic strain.”

I added that “such cuts were a betrayal of the past efforts of those pensioners who, as hard-working loyal employees, expected the company to honour its retirement obligations.”

Needless to say, I received neither the courtesy of an acknowledgement nor reply from Bonamour.

James C Mould

Former Times Media executive

Bryer on right road, Macdonald off track

Keith Bryer wrote an article on small nuclear reactors (Business Report, April 3). He was correct in pointing out that small nuclear reactors will be a factor in the future. South Africa was a pioneer in this field by developing the world-leading pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), which is now serving as a model to a number of other small reactor developments around the globe.

What was shocking was the vicious attack launched on Bryer by Janda Macdonald (Business Report, April 7). Her insulting superior language clearly indicates her lack of knowledge on the topic. When someone resorts to disgraceful personal attacks, it shows that they have nothing else to “fight” with.

Macdonald talks complete nonsense by saying that uranium mining causes poisons in water courses. It does no such thing. Besides, the concepts of “radiation” and of “poison” are two different theories in science. Macdonald does not seem to know this.

Furthermore, contrary to her claim, the free markets have shown nuclear power to be extremely viable. In Europe, France has almost 80 percent nuclear power plus the lowest electricity price. Denmark has the highest wind power component, plus the highest electricity price.

In the US, the nuclear power plants built in the 1970s are now running extremely profitably. She either does not know these facts, or chooses to hide them from readers.

Macdonald says that the nuclear power has “routine emissions”. This is totally untrue, as operating data from all over the world clearly indicates.

Bryer’s opinions were on the right road, Macdonald’s response was on the dirt road.

Dr Kelvin Kemm

Nuclear Physicist, Pretoria


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