The Department of Employment and Labour has committed to provide R104-million, through the Unemployment Insurance Fund, to Productivity South Africa (Productivity SA).
Employment and Labour Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi confirmed during a virtual budget vote that the funds would be used to help reinvigorate Productivity SA’s job-saving programme, which will support about 6 000 small and medium-sized enterprises to improve productivity and preserve and create jobs.
Productivity SA, which is an entity of the department, is starting to implement a programme called Business Turnaround and Recovery.
The programme is aimed at preventing job losses, as was an the initial job-saving programme, called Turnaround Solution, which had to be suspended in 2018 owing to lack of funds.
The entity, through the programme, implements turnaround strategies to support companies facing operational difficulties, which may result in companies considering retrenchments.
Productivity SA chairperson Professor Mthunzi Mdwaba confirmed during a virtual press briefing on July 22 that the entity has received a payment of R23-million already, as a first tranche of the full amount.
He explained that the amount will be distributed in three tranches, which will follow after progress reports have been made in light of the first tranche.
Business Turnaround and Recovery Programme executive Manager Justice Tshifularo explained that Productivity SA supports businesses in terms of productivity and improving efficiencies.
The entity provides, for example, financial management training and business streamlining guidance, for startup companies, those moving from good to great or those close to failure or retrenchments.
Tshifularo noted that the programme’s focus will be aligned with the Master Plans in the manufacturing sector for optimal impact and coordinated efforts by government.
The businesses that will receive assistance need to prove that it is in decline, should have at least 20 people employed, be tax compliant and must be viable for a turnaround strategy or job-creating potential.
Moloi during the press briefing said the department expected a report from Productivity SA on the programme’s progress by April 2021, which will detail the number of jobs that have been saved.
Meanwhile, Productivity SA will on July 24 host a virtual seminar discussing how to include productivity as one of the tools for recovery and revitalisation of the economy, which is part of the entity’s Post-Covid-19 Strategy document that has been submitted to the Economic Cluster.
The entity believes that, given the challenges of low levels of productivity in the country, there is a strong need to campaign and promote productivity to counter slow economic growth, high unemployment and growing inequality.
Mdwaba says that Productivity SA is driven to improve South Africa’s competitiveness in terms of the Global Competitiveness Index, which had South Africa ranked at number 44 out of 63 countries ten years ago, compared with a current ranking of 59.
Moloi concluded that we should “never waste a good crisis” and learn from the Asian economies that have become successful thanks to inclusive growth strategies.