Comments by Rob Davies dti minister during his budget vote

Original publish date – Wed, 20 Apr 2011 06:44:36 +0000, Keith

Minister Davies spoke about B-BBEE during his budget vote: He said the following:

“Regarding economic empowerment more generally, the BEE Codes of Good Practice were promulgated 4 years ago and we are now in a better position to assess their impact. The Presidential Advisory Council has made several policy recommendations to allow for greater participation by black people in productive activities and to tackle what is now emerging as increasingly complex practices of fronting. To this end, the dti and the Presidential Advisory Council are focusing on reviewing the BEE Codes of good practice and possibly amending the BBBEE Act. This could entail, amongst others, refinements to ensure greater policy coherence in the application of BBBEE across government and to strengthen access to procurement opportunities through the now approved and aligned PPPFA regulations. We are also looking at ways to strengthen our efforts to combat the fraudulent practice of fronting.”

Business Day – 20th April 2011 is reporting as follows :

“Department of Trade and Industry acting director-general Lionel October said yesterday the recommendations of the advisory council — now being considered by the economic cluster of government departments — would shift the focus of BEE away from equity investment and ownership towards productive activities.

Currently, companies scored high marks on the BEE scorecard for black ownership, which gave them a high overall score even when they performed poorly in areas such as enterprise development and procurement.

A proposal being examined by the economic cluster is that minimum scores would be required for enterprise development and procurement — or the overall score would suffer. This would compel companies to aim for achievement in all areas.

Mr Davies said what was under consideration was that points would be deducted from the overall score if minimum scores for enterprise development and procurement from small companies were not achieved.

It would also not be enough to merely hand over money for an incubator or enterprise development project. Companies would have to be actively involved in fostering small businesses.

“In Asia, small and big businesses have a symbiotic relationship where big business gets a lot of input from small business and works hard to ensure that it has the required capacity and the technology,” Mr Davies said.

Complex forms of fronting also had to be addressed.

“We have seen that people who participate in ownership deals imagine that they have one thing, but then when they look at the fine print, they have something else,” Mr Davies said.

“There is now a whole industry of lawyers and accountants who are structuring these deals in particular ways.”

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The above is not too different from our crystal ball gazing in our previous newsletter.  This is what we said:

The dti has been looking at revising the codes, and recently issued a tender for companies, presumably law firms to take this further. Once the service providers are appointed, the process will take many months or even years to evaluate and then re-evaluate the B-BBEE codes. We are quite sure that this will not result in “canceling” B-BBEE, but gazing into a crystal ball we expect in one or two years time to see the following:

Ownership
Ownership indicators will change to award more points to broad-based and employee ownership schemes. Individual ownership will be awarded less points. Less emphasis will be placed on direct voting rights and more emphasis placed on a new form of economic interest to ensure that new owners get direct benefit out of their investment. To date many companies do not declare dividends so a minority owner has no benefit, other than when he sells his shares, and in private companies there is no good way to value shares like the JSE does.

Management Control
Will be worth less points than present. Currently one new black director can be “worth” up to 6 points. This is seen as only benefiting a few, it is not broad-based enough. Management may be reduced to 5 points or even consolidated into the Employment Equity element reducing the number of elements to 6.

Employment Equity
Definitions will be cleared up. Allowing a significantly more objective measure of “senior, middle and junior” management employees. More points will be awarded. There is a possibility to have the definitions expanded to broaden the reach of the management levels. It should be noted that as from next year the targets for EE go up anyway.

Skills Development
Skills is anticipated to be the biggest beneficiary of the re-evaluations and will certainly be worth more points. Additional indicators, similar to the excellent construction charter will be created. This will include a more detailed breakdown including mentorships and bursaries.
The cost of Skills Development will not be a major discussion point, rather what does that spend get used for. The cost will therefore be targeted in more specific and beneficial areas.

Preferential Procurement
As from next year the targets for procurement go up anyway. Definitions and interpretations, especially around exclusions – imports, third party will be cleared up. The procurement element cannot change substantially as it is the theoretical driver behind Black Economic Empowerment.

Enterprise Development
Points may drop slightly. More indicators like those in the construction charter will be added. Some “easy” points, may decrease in importance. Mentorships for developing enterprises will be added. Increased emphasis will be placed on the type of beneficiary ensuring better Enterprise Development opportunities and not generic spend with any qualifying beneficiary.

Socio-economic Development
Points may drop slightly in favour of the EE and Skills elements.

QSEs may find that the “easy” points on ED and SED will have less value.
The thresholds on EMEs will rise.

The charters will also have to be re-evaluated, so there may be a recommendation to decrease the number of gazetted charters
Let’s re-look at this in two years time and see how accurate we were.

 

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