The South African government has urged departments to pay suppliers “within a few days” of the receipt of an invoice.
Speaking at a summit to discuss increasing opportunities for entrepreneurs, Jeff Radebe, minister for planning, monitoring and evaluation, said in June government departments held 12,870 unpaid invoices, with a total value of R62m, that were older than 30 days.
He said 47% of the workforce – or 7.3m people – were employed by SMEs, which depended on prompt payment.
“It is a very serious offense not to pay suppliers within the stipulated timeframe of 30 days,” said Radebe.
“On 17 April 2015, government announced the establishment of a special unit in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to tackle the problem of non payment of suppliers within the required 30 days,” he said, adding that the unit had expedited payments totalling R168m to suppliers.
“While the 30-day period is a general guideline on the limits, it is clear that it is desirable that payments must in fact be done within a few days of the receipt of valid invoices to enable optimal running of businesses.”
Radebe said the government’s goal of generating 11m jobs by 2030 would not be possible without supporting small businesses.
He said investigations would take place at government departments to address late payments.
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