Should Zuma Appoint a Minister to Crush Red Tape?

I spent several hours this week at the first SA Manufacturing Indaba, a worthwhile event and one I expect to see repeated.   Much was said that was worthwhile, but one idea has stuck in my mind.   One of the panelists recalled meeting a visiting Belgian trade delegation, which included that country’s Minister of Red Tape, whose job was to visit other government departments to get rid of unnecessary forms and to trim down those which were too full of useless questions.   Of course, in South Africa it is the opposite, with most ministers and bureaucrats regarding red tape as their main reason for existing.   But might this be something to emulate here, as the President prepares his new Cabinet?  Here are the views of a couple of our experts….. 

George Glynos from ETM:

Undoubtedly yes. The question will however always revolve around what is seen as red tape and whether this can genuinely be done efficiently.  The danger with central planners is that they implement regulation to solve a particular problem.  The danger in trying to address this is not that they don’t remove some red tape, but that they potentially replace it with another version.  Ultimately, if it does follow more free market ideals then by and large I would support this, but my comment may be ideological.

Mike Schussler from economists.co.za

Yes, please.  We need a ministry for business that can oversee other ministries to tell them to get rid of red tape, hurdles and restrictions such as labour law and trading laws – and see that we get the co-ordination we need to help SA firms (particularly smaller ones) export, and that we get business a voice inside cabinet. If the unions have the Department of Labour and Economic Policy can business not have a department headed by a knowledgeable business man (with friends and contacts mainly in business) in a Department of Business? This department would make everyone sit up and take notice of the term: profit. Profits create wealth, and wealth creates jobs. We have departments for the poor in Social Development so we need a department for business that does not write rules but lowers many regulations. It also will help any business that has completed its work or requirements to get paid within 30 days. It would also tell SANRAL that 7 days or pre-paid is not SA business practice – and that as they pay their suppliers this way, they will also only get paid in 30 days.  It would police government departments to see if they are helping or hindering business and set out findings in a report every year. It would also have Ombudsman for tax, banking and insurance under it. It would provide opinions and experts on small business to a small claims court that falls under Department of Justice, but for which it provides experts at reasonable fees to small and medium sized business. This is so that those people who do not pay in 30 days get to know courts better. This would make people respect the right to work as well. In a strike situation where a union claims not to know why non-striking homes are burning, this department would investigate along with the police. If a union or its members are involved, the said union will be raided and bank accounts closed and leaders made to pay back losses to the economy. If people are killed, then, and the union is found guilty this ministry would make sure that union loses its licence and its leaders are banned for life from organizing employees.  Yes to a business ministry that adds rules for others and takes away red tape and rules for business.

Conclusion:

I have a horror of form-filling, but have done some writing work recently for large organisations, whose form-filling requirements were ridiculous.   The only good thing is that having jumped through all these red tape hurdles I have at last been paid!  But a proper pruning of red tape in both the public and private sector would be really welcome – and would hopefully improve productivity as well.   

Tweet of the Day:

Nein. (@NeinQuarterly):  Somewhere a painting of a pipe is sitting quietly at its desk. Smoking an artist.

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