East London – Eastern Cape companies who are able to create additional jobs could walk away R10 000 richer as part of an ambitious plan to boost employment in the province.
Launching the R50 million Eastern Cape Industrial Job Stimulus Fund (ECIJSP) in East London on Wednesday, Economic Development MEC Mcebisi Jonas said the fund aims to create jobs through stimulating and encouraging the diversification of the provincial economy.
“Companies need to have a minimum of 10 people in their employ and will benefit R10 000 for each job created. The application process will be controlled through an audit system that will see cash incentives paid to companies per proven job created, after a mandatory waiting period of six months,” said Jonas.
He said the fund will be administered by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and comes as a direct response to government’s job creation drive to strengthen the sectors outlined in the Provincial Industrial Development Strategy.
Companies targeted by the programme include those in the agro-processing, tourism, manufacturing, petrochemicals, Information Communication Technology, electronics and business processing, outsourcing and offshoring industries.
ECDC CEO Sithembele Mase said the corporation’s role will be to manage the funds and perform administrative functions, including receiving, processing and adjudicating applications on behalf of government.
“The incentive will only be available to businesses that operate in the province. The businesses which apply for the incentive are required to create 10 new jobs in the province and will be expected to keep each job for a minimum of a year from the date of employment,” said Mase.
He said this was necessary to ensure that those employed are not retrenched once the funds have been allocated to the company.
The fund is expected to create a minimum of 30 000 new jobs over the next three years.
Mase said applicants will be measured according to the strategic impact of the jobs created, sector prioritisation, location and skills development.
All successful applicants will be expected to sign a contract with the ECDC before any funds can be released.
“If an employee resigns or has been dismissed for misconduct or incapacity during the contract period, the employer will be required to fill the vacancy within two months. If the employer fails to do that, the total incentive for all jobs created by the employer will fall away,” added Mase.
Border Kei Chamber of Business chairperson Les Holbrook applauded the initiative and said other government departments should also support the fund.
“The ECDC needs a pat on the back for a great initiative. However, the main challenge now will be how they take this forward. It’s easy to give money away, but more difficult to ensure that the money given away is used in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Applications forms are available from the ECDC website: www.ecdc.co.za. Companies can start applying for the subsidy from Thursday until November 20.
By Velisile Bukula, BuaNews