Government sabotages its own investment incentives. And why today’s breakfast was a disaster.


A lot of people are suspicious of government officials, so we must raise our hats to senior dti bureaucrat Garth Strachan.   He blew the lid on his department’s justifiable frustrations when it tries to support business and grow jobs, only to see such efforts being demolished by other government departments.

The venue was a discussion on a slightly dodgy World Bank report (is there any other kind?) which gave a lot of attention to tax incentives in SA.

Quite why there was not equal attention to all the grant incentives puzzled most of the audience at the Wits Business School, a place where finding a car parking space is as difficult as tuning in to a white presenter on 702.

Strachan was reacting to the Manufacturing Circle’s boss Philippa Rodseth, who had politely understated that there is “not always alignment” between government departments and officials when it comes to incentives.

Strachan responded, agreeing that a lack of policy coherency in government “is a very big constraint.”

He said that the dti is trying to grow the renewable energy sector, but “another part of government says we will not connect it up to the national grid.”

He appeared to be referring to the foot-dragging by Eskom in signing up agreements to take power from new greener independent producers, something which government and the regulators seem powerless (every pun intended) to over-rule.

The casualties of this?  Strachan said there are five component manufacturers in the renewable energy sector, who have been supported by the dti which “are closing their doors” because of uncertain demand.   Wow.

As we head for the budget on the 22nd of February, it would be wise to look carefully at the government’s buffet of incentives, to ensure that when they are offered to uplift a company, there is not some grubby civil servant lurking under the table to knee the recipients in the dangly department.

After all, it is not the State’s money which is being squandered.  It came from taxpayers.



Your man on the streets of Sandton stormed out of a breakfast meeting today.   It was at the office obelisk of law giant Webber Wentzel, and involved a round table discussion on women in power.   Not the dominatrix stuff, but the oil and gas stuff.

There were three problems:  The draw card was one of Africa’s richest women Isabel dos Santos, whose spectacular success we assume has nothing to do with her parentage.    On arrival, we were told she was a no-show.   Then the breakfast turned out to be muffins, sandwiches and skewers of fruit.  All were great, but they weren’t bacon and egg.   Just as Brexit means Brexit, so breakfast should mean breakfast.  Misleading advertising of the cruellest kind.

However, I would have struggled on had I not arrived before 8am for an 8.30 event which had still not kicked off at 9am.

The rudeness of the organisers is unforgiveable, and my only regret is that I didn’t snatch a pile of muffins on the way out, for a mid-morning top-up.


Tweet of the Day:

Fin24 (@Fin24):   Trump has called on his countrymen to “buy American and hire American.” – #Trade


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