SA enterprise sector critically ill

Johannes Wessels

@johannesEOSA1

The formal South African Enterprise Sector is critically ill. Were the company tax returns of the 768 000 companies combined and submitted as that of a single entity (say SA Amalgamated (Pty) Ltd) there would not have been any Company Income Tax (CIT) payable to SARS for three consecutive tax years.

SARS data on Company Income Tax (CIT) confirms the private sector is in a dismal state. In the tax years 2014 – 2016 assessed joint losses of all companies surpassed joint taxable income by R445 billion.

SARS data on CIT from 2007 to 2016 on assessed CIT returns bring the following to the fore (see Figure 1 below):

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Ten wasted years: Preferring “Dumbing Down” to “Productive Knowledge”

Johannes Wessels

@johannesEOSA1

TEN WASTED YEARS…  Tito Mboweni’s colloquium “to think outside the box about economic growth” is akin to closing the stable door after the racehorse had not only bolted, but already won a race elsewhere. Scavenging in the ANC dustbin of rejected advice, Mboweni picked Harvard economist Ricardo Hausmann as advisor, knowing well Hausmann’s advice on productive knowledge had been flatly ignored by the ANC Government since 2008.

Hausmann considers productive knowledge as the key factor that separates successful countries from unsuccessful ones. A lack of productive knowledge therefore retards economic growth and development.

From 1990 to 2003 South Africa lost 7% of its professionally qualified people, predominantly high-skilled whites.  After some stability that came during the high growth Mbeki-Manuel years the exodus was re-triggered by the growing ineptitude of an administration that radically transformed departments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) into little more than facades.

The police service, SAA, Transnet, the NPA and municipalities are some examples where cadre deployment trumped productive knowledge. The result:

  • At township level, the disgruntled resorted to service protests.
  • At professional level, they packed their bags and headed to the emigration counter with highly skilled blacks now outnumbering their white counterparts, bound in solidarity by a deep non-racial gatvolheid in the slide into corruption, lawlessness, dismal public services and the undermining of property rights. 
  • At investor level, South African businessmen have emigrated through FDI:  fixed investment by South Africans abroad exceed fixed investments lured to our shores.
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Make BEE growth compatible

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Pres Ramabosasa: has Duduzane’s father made way for Andile’s father?

Pres Cyril Ramabosasa’s written statement to the Speaker that he was not aware of a R500 000 donation by a company with large contracts with government to finance his acrimonious campaign for the leadership of the ANC, confirms he is a person with not the faintest interest in detail and quite satisfied to accept that it is “twelve o’clock and all’s well…”

It is the third time in a year that he denied any knowledge of wrongdoing at the time of the events and for a very long time afterwards. In baseball, it would have been the dreaded Strike Three and out.

But this is South African politics. And with a parliamentary system where the ANC as majority party has accepted as norm the precedent of a president that answers with a “I don’t know” and thereby dodging the crux of parliamentary questions, it will not be “Strike Three” for Ramabosasa.

The two prominent issues about which Ramaphosa also had denied any knowledge of wrong-doing, deal with:

  • the massive corruption of State Capture, and
  • the dreadful financial situation of Eskom.
Continue reading “Pres Ramabosasa: has Duduzane’s father made way for Andile’s father?”

White Monopoly Capital: astute reverse double somersault or a Janus performance?

Is the presidential acknowledgement of entrepreneurs as heroes and not villains the equivalent of Pope John Paul II’s admission that the church was wrong to condemn Galileo for endorsing a helio-centric view? If so, it is one of the most astute political reverse double summersaults. As deputy-president Mr. Ramaphosa himself sung heartily the “Down with White Monopoly Capital” song in the Zuma choir.

Janus Ramaphosa

Does the comment during the dinner of the Investment Summit really signal the dawn of economic freedom or was it merely a modern manifestation of Janus? Will the future reveal a Ramaphosa butterfly that was an ugly caterpillar under Zuma or is the two-mouths-two-messages the real reality?

The first requirement to assess future options is a proper understanding of the present. Let us explore that by assessing the ANC Government’s (and Ramaphosa’s) views on SMEs:  does it indicate an embrace of private initiative or something else?

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SheNenegans and zol clouds: Summits almost like old-age home talent concerts

Government has developed a fool proof strategy to divert (most) attention from its frenetic fumbling of the economy that they had successfully put on full-throttle reverse.

The Job Summit’s rehearsed pitches and agreements to create jobs (almost as if jobs can be manufactured like overalls), to minimise retrenchments and to buy local,  reminds one of the annual retirement village talent concert: nothing new, innovative or inspiring. Rather old hat. It solicited respectful applause, but thankfully Nhlanhla Nene (ably assisted by Julius Malema and by the grace of the Guptas) diverted attention from the dreary Summit.

One has to give it to the ANC:  just as the Job Summit was obscured by sheNenegans, the previous big building block – the Emergency Stimulus Package – was enveloped by a court verdict releasing thick aromatic clouds of “Personal stimulus by zol”.  That high successfully obscured the regurgitating of empty promises of yesterday’s infrastructure development plans.

Can Trevor Noah develop such a script? Continue reading “SheNenegans and zol clouds: Summits almost like old-age home talent concerts”

Government sabotages growth through property rights uncertainties and ignoring Moody’s warning shots

The heated debate between proponents of property protection and those in favour of  confiscation (expropriation without compensation) has been characterised by a lack of data and waged mainly on ideological and emotional arguments.  The lack of an acceptable factual basis is evident in:

  • Government, AgriSA and Afriforum operating with different figures for categorising land ownership according to race;
  • The number of farms on the list for the first round of expropriation.  (If there was such a list).
  • Uncertainty about the number of recipients of free subsidy houses (where transfer of title has not taken place) and how these properties should be counted.
  • Arguments that expropriation would kill the economy simply being countered with promises that the economy would not be harmed.

At the public consultations the facts applied were almost always derived from (and limited to) local situations and narratives with no or little attention to systemic information. EOSA therefore analysed last year’s WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index (as part of our enterprise research on relevant data and statistics) to assess whether there are some global indicators to inform the debate.  Several significant correlations are evident from the WEF data:

  • Highly competitive countries have strong protection of property rights.
  • High per capita GDP goes hand-in-hand with property rights.
  • Poor policing and high cost of crime for businesses are not characteristics of highly competitive countries.

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