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E90 MILLION RELIEF FUND NOT ASSISTING MSMES - SENATORS

By Qondile Ntiwane | 2020-06-07

Although commending government for introducing business interventions in the interim, senators have decried the E90m SME Relief Fund, which they felt was not assisting Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

This was part of the concerns raised by the Senate portfolio Committee during their meeting with the ministry of commerce, industry and trade.

The ministry had met with members of the portfolio committee to update them on how government was managing the effects of the COVID-19 impact on business.

The meeting also sought to get feedback from the senators on how they felt government was managing the situation and to further update them on the Economic Recovery Strategy.

The senators also implored government to consider the cost of doing business in the country, which they felt may be contributing to price escalations.

They also wanted to know the formula within which government determined businesses to operate, to which the ministry responded that they were being guided by the ministry of health.

The senators further asked for a session with key ministries, such as finance, labour and social security, housing and urban development and commerce, industry and trade where they would be able to express their concerns and seek solutions together.

“The senators also asked government to continue opening the economy in a responsible manner.

They also asked how government determined the quality of sanitisers beings used and the ministry responded that a standard had already been developed by the Eswatini Standards Authority to test sanitisers.

Equipment has already been ordered to test the sanitisers,” said Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo in a statement yesterday.

The minister said they appreciated the senators’ concerns and valued their contributions, which he said they were taking with the seriousness they deserve.

“We shall continue to engage them with a view of finding a lasting solution to the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the Eswatini Competition Commission Muzi Dlamini updated the senators on the guidelines that were currently being developed by the commission on excessive pricing and unfair trade practices.

Also making a presentation during the meeting was the Director of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Mluleki Dlamini; who updated the senators on the ongoing partial relaxation of business operations.

Dlamini highlighted the challenges that businesses were facing as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause a ripple effect on the economy, particularly on MSMEs.

He further presented a proposed model for MSME Finance Relief; which he said was currently being developed by government.

Ministry closes 52 companies, 9 trading licences suspended

The ministry of commerce, industry and trade has so far closed 52 businesses due to unlawful business practices and suspended nine trading licences.

This was revealed by Registrar of Companies and Acting Chief Commercial Officer Msebe Malinga when updating senators on the ongoing inspections by the ministry conducted in collaboration with the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS).

He mentioned that some businesses continued to deliberately contravene the COVID-19 measures.

He added that the ministry had already covered three regions namely Shiselweni, Hhohho and Manzini.

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