In a bid to save many enterprises from definite collapse due to the impact of strict lockdown regulations, Free State Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) has introduced economic recovery incentives to provide financial support to local enterprises.
“These incentives targeted both the formal and informal sectors in the townships and rural areas, in order to save jobs and create new ones. To date, a total of R71 million was disbursed to assisting over 893 Free State enterprises,” Free State DESTEA MEC Makalo Mohale said.
Mohale said the department has commenced a series of stakeholder engagements to ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction with the goal of revitalising and growing the Free Sate economy, particularly the township economy post COVID-19.
Speaking at a Free State’s local government leadership meeting which included mayors, Members of Mayoral Committee (MMCs) for Local Economic Development (LED), and municipal managers, Mohale acknowledged the devastation that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have on the local economy.
Mohale said the department intends to sharpen its attention on local economic development this financial year, in order to ensure inclusive economic growth.
He said that efforts will be made to enhance the District Development Model, in order to pool financial and non-financial resources from national, provincial and local government.
“The role of functional and well capacitated LED offices at local government was identified as being key to driving economic development and job creation. To this end, the meeting agreed that both the district and provincial LED forums will be immediately resuscitated and that these forums must ensure that the identified strategic projects are implemented,” the MEC said.
During the meeting, the department was mandated to consult with municipalities and compile a catalogue of catalytic projects which will be used to engage potential investors.
The meeting also put on spotlight the proliferation of illegal businesses, mainly in the townships. The meeting noted that businesses in most townships operate without the necessary permits, and many do not comply with the applicable business by-laws as well as the Businesses Act.
Enforcement of business by-laws
Mohale reiterated his commitment made during his budget speech earlier this year, that the department will continue to focus on enforcement of business by-laws to curb trade in illicit goods, building of illegal business structures, and trading without business permits.
This process, the MEC said, has already started with DESTEA team visiting municipalities to assess the efficiency of available by-laws and to assist municipalities with enforcement strategies.
“Recently, the DESTEA team visited Koppies in Ngwathe Municipality to roll out this process. The exercise entails engagement with Municipality LED officials, Law enforcement officials, and the business community. Encouraging progress is being made in this regard,” Mohale said.
The local government leadership took the opportunity to voice their gratitude on Mohale’s leadership and commitment towards ensuring a better life for the people of the Free State.
They also shared with the MEC the plans being undertaken by their respective municipalities to ensure economic recovery and growth.