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Johannesburg - The proposed Licensing of Businesses Bill is a “crazy” idea which will maximise corruption, the Free Market Foundation said on Wednesday.

“Basically, it says anyone who supplies anything, from the largest conglomerate in the world to the little old lady who sells nuts under a tree in KwaZulu-Natal, would need a licence,” executive director Leon Louw told reporters in Johannesburg.

It is a draft bill which has not been tabled in Parliament. The foundation's criticism includes that it lacks detail and is peppered with the word “may”, which will give local authorities too much discretion.

If passed, the power to grant licences will lie with municipalities, which will have to create a licensing structure with thousands of inspectors, and a dispute resolution body.

Fines do not have a limit, there is no due process, no right to judicial appeal and it allows for arbitrary revocation, closure or seizure.

As an “afterthought”, it provides that “illegal immigrants” will not be allowed to trade.

Leon questioned why a department of trade and industry-written draft would encroach on the territory of home affairs. He noted that it was already illegal for an “illegal immigrant” to trade.

He said it appeared someone had tried to think of a way to maximise corruption, which he believed such a law would do. - Sapa