Ebrahim Patel. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Ebrahim Patel. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The government and its associated institutions would spend about R40bn over the next five years in supporting hundreds of black industrialist projects, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said in parliament on Wednesday.

This funding would be derived from the budgets of various government departments, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), money raised through competition settlements, and the equity equivalence investment programme of broad-based black economic empowerment.

In his speech on the trade and industry economic development budget vote in the National Council of Provinces, Patel highlighted the more aggressive drive to achieve greater inclusion and break down monopolistic market structures in the economy.

From the next financial year the Competition Commission would initiate one market inquiry a year; complete more than 60 cartel investigations in the next five years; and initiate 10 investigations into the abuse of market power by dominant firms. The aim of these investigations and inquiries would be to open up key priority sectors to new entrants.

“It is us saying let us open this economy to more South Africans, let young people find opportunities to come in,” Patel said.

The new drive stems from amendments to the Competition Act which came into effect two weeks ago and which give the Competition Commission greater powers to address the conduct of firms and the structure of markets which Patel said led to the exclusion of small, micro and medium-enterprises and black South Africans.

Master plans were being drawn up to improve the industrial performance, dynamism and competitiveness of local companies in different sectors.

Patel told MPs that the merger of the previously separate trade and industry and economic development departments would be completed by the end of this financial year. The department would be called the department of trade, industry and competition. 

He said the emphasis of the department would be on action, expedited delivery and economic inclusion.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za