Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said there was little encouragement for business in the Budget but welcomed moves to improve procurement and transparency and, in particular, the pledge to pay suppliers in the small business sector within 30 days.

Following the 2015 budget speech, Janine Myburgh, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commented on its outcome.

“This will be a great relief to many small business owners who often wait many months for governments and municipalities to settle accounts,” said Myburgh.

“We were also delighted to see the tax relief and simplification for the very small businesses. This is great because it will make it easier to start those micro businesses many of which will grow into viable operations and employ people in the future.”

“We hope the centralised procurement works well and reduces prices, but it does come with a risk. When a centralised system goes wrong the consequences can be very serious indeed. It is putting all your eggs into one basket. The other good thing about the proposed system was that it would free tenderers from a lot of unnecessary red tape.”

Myburgh said an increase in the fuel levy was expected but the extra 50 cents for the Road Accident Fund was a shock. The fund has a history of poor management and although things seemed to have improved it still needed very careful watching.

“What is disappointing is that diesel and petrol are both being increased by the same amount. “The problem here is that it is the diesel for agriculture and transport that drives food and other prices up. Petrol is used mainly for private travel and it should be treated differently.”

The Chamber was very disappointed to see the “green levy” on electricity increase by two cents to 5.5 cents a unit. “Electricity is already so expensive that it is unrealistic to expect an extra two cents to influence people to save a little more.”

A further significant increase in Eskom tariffs is on the cards for the Minister who appeared to accept that “cost reflective tariffs” were likely. “What Eskom needs to do is drive down its costs and not continue paying too much for coal and other supplies knowing that it can simply pass on the excessive costs to its customers.”

The Chamber was encouraged by the stress on renewable energy, independent power producers, public-private partnerships and the omission of any reference to the unrealistic plans to build a fleet of new nuclear powers stations. “Minister Nene is a realist and he knows nuclear power is now unaffordable. We can only hope that his views will prevail to spare us from a massive debt burden in the years to come.”