Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New department takes shape

By Ofentse Mokae
24 March 2010

Economic development Minister Ebrahim Patel delivered the first budget of his department with over half if it set aside for funding the department’s new entities.

Tabling the budget vote 27 in an extended public committee meeting of the National Assembly yesterday Patel said the reason for funding was to enhance the work the entities perform.

R318 million of the R418 million budget will go towards these economic regulatory bodies with R152 million for small business funding, through transfers to the Khula Enterprise Finance Limited and the South African Micro-Finance Apex Fund.

Together with the Competition Commission, the Competition Tribunal and the International Trade Administration Commission as well as the Industrial Development Corporation the entities will report to Patel’s department as of April 1.

The rest of the budget will finance the department’s key programmes, policy development, economic planning and coordination, social dialogue and administration.

For the past nine months the department has been operating under the trade and industry department and housed at its dti campus in Pretoria.

However the department has since organised its administration by developing a budget for the establishment phase, recruited core staff, secured and furnished new offices.

“We received more than 1000 applications for the first 13 posts we advertised recently and expect to make the first permanent appointments by June this year,” Patel said.

Patel also launched the “Next Economy National Dialogue”, a series of economic debates shortly after his budget speech in parliament.

“The purpose of the dialogue is to debate the country’s economic future, providing publicly inspired ideas for policy suggestions to the department in the spirit of wide ranging participatory democracy,” the former trade unionist said.

Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi, Bobby Godsell Chairman of Business Leadership South Africa as well Joseph Edozien Chairman of South Africa New Economics Network were part of the first debate titled “The Next Economy: where to from here?".


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