New national SMME hotline tackles late government payments

South Africa’s Small, Medium and Micro enterprises sector contributes more than 40% to the country’s GDP and in an effort to support and sustain this critical sector, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) today launched a national hotline for  Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) to assist with the process of outstanding government payments.
The SMME Payment Assistance Hotline will provide a single point of contact to facilitate the payment of services rendered, within 30 days of delivery, to public sector institutions by SMMEs. This is in line with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), which requires that public entities pay for services rendered to them within 30 days upon receipt of all the necessary deliverables
The initiative reflects Seda’s proactive approach to developing small enterprises and is an extension of government’s commitment to integrating this sector into the mainstream economy.
“Government has established many financial and non-financial support institutions and services for SMMEs but these entrepreneurs still question government’s commitment towards them. This is primarily as a result of the lengthy processes involved in the approval or delivery of services and it is therefore important that further monitoring mechanisms are established to help address challenges faced by this sector,” says Seda’s Chief Executive Officer, Hlonela Lupuwana.
SMME owners are encouraged to call the hotline should an invoice from a government department not be paid within 30 days. A dedicated hotline agent will gather all the relevant information and then contact the relevant government departments’ finance division to facilitate payment of the outstanding amount.
“The issue of late or non-payment by public sector institutions has been high on Cabinet’s agenda for a long time,” says Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry. “We are well aware that this delay is a key contributor to cash flow problems affecting small enterprises. This new service will provide an easy, accessible solution that will fast track payments.”
Seda will manage the service and has appointed a service provider to operate the hotline on its behalf. The launch follows the successful conclusion of the pilot phase which has been running since April 2009, to test the process flow, reporting formats and the efficiency of the system
The hotline can be reached via a dedicated share call number 0860 766 3729 (0860 SMME PAY) and will operate from 06h00 to 18h00 weekdays. After hour enquiries may be submitted via an email and fax. The  template can be downloaded from the Seda website www.seda.org.za by following the Public Sector SMME Payment Assistance Hotline link which is available 24/7.