Small manufacturing businesses have missed out on $694,000 in funding because of bureaucratic delays in establishing a grants program.
DMITRE executives confirmed to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee on Monday that $694,000 of a budgeted $1 million in 2010/11 to assist local manufacturing businesses to improve their competitiveness was unspent that year.
“Whilst the money had been provided to DMITRE in late 2010, delays by Minister Koutsantonis and the Department in establishing the program meant most of the funding could not be provided to small businesses by the end of June 2011,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Minister Koutsantonis then sought special permission from Treasury to keep the unspent $694,000 and allow it to be provided to small businesses in the following year.
“However, Treasury refused and small manufacturers lost access to funds designed to help them ‘improve their competitiveness’.
“Minister Koutsantonis has been boasting for months about a new advanced manufacturing strategy, an Advanced Manufacturing Council to be chaired by Goran Roos and extra funding for small manufacturers.
“Instead of political spin, Minister Koutsantonis could have actually helped small manufacturers by ensuring they receive the funding Treasury had provided for them.
“South Australian small businesses will be very angry when they find out they have lost out on critical funding due to bureaucratic delays presided over by Minister Koutsantonis and DMITRE.”
In other evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee, it was confirmed that:
• DMITRE Chief Executive Geoff Knight received a $43,000 pay increase (to $374,000) in October 2012 and would also receive another general increase (possibly $10,000+) backdated to 1 July 2012
• DMITRE was implementing a Sustainable Budget Commission decision to abolish the position of Special Trade Envoys- so Special Trade Envoy to India Brian Hayes QC would continue to be employed at $185,000 per year but would now be called “Special Adviser on India”.
• DMITRE officers had met with lobbyist and former Treasurer Kevin Foley about problems being experienced by his client Autodom