Confusion about BEE self-assessments after 31 July 2009
Since the publication of Government Notice #354 on 9 April 2009, there have been many online and email statements which have pronounced that BEE certificates produced after 1st August 2009 will only be valid if produced by an Accredited Verification Agency or one that has received a pre-assessment letter from SANAS.
The NABC believes that this interpretation has misled thousands of businesses as it is only partly correct. In addition it has caused many businesses to incur large expenses through agreeing to obtain expensive BEE verification rating certificates which are actually not required by law.
The law, as contained in the Generic B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice, only states that verification is “recommended”. This directly implies that entities may submit their BEE scorecards and certificates by other means which includes self-assessments and in the case of businesses with a turnover of under R5 million a confirmation of turnover letter from the Auditor or Accounting Officer may in some circumstances suffice (please refer to your specific Sector Code to verify the requirements for EME’s in the specific Sector / Industry). Templates for such letters of confirmation may be obtained from the DTI website as well as any BEE consultant. In addition, the Department of Trade & Industry themselves have supplied businesses with a self-assessment tool which is accessible on their BEE portal via their website. Companies may also purchase self-assessment software from various vendors.
However, the majority of businesses find that the B-BBEE compliance criteria is often too complex for them to undertake self-assessments and they may therefore appoint a professional BEE consultant to compile an “assisted self-assessment”.
The NABC has thus interpreted the new Government Notice (Notice # 354) by the Minister of Trade and Industry with the understanding that it is intended to regulate the work of Verification Agencies and not to affect self-assessments as originally stipulated and legislated in the Generic B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice. This interpretation is further supported by the Minister’s statement contained in Notice #354 that it was issued only under Section 14 of the BEE Act. If the Minister had intended to change the Generic B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice he would have had to issue a notice in terms of Section 9(1) of the BEE Act, after complying with Section 9(5). This would also have required a public comment notice period of 60 days prior to the issuing of a regulation by the Minister of Trade & Industry.
It is important that this matter be clarified as our markets and economy encourage all businesses to embark on the B-BBEE compliance road, with the development of a BEE scorecard being the first step in this regard. Clarity also needs to be obtained to ensure that all BEE practitioners, both Consultants and Verification Agents are on the same page to ensure uniformity and proper support to business.
We the NABC therefore wish to urge businesses who are confronted by customers or verification agencies who insist on BEE certificates from Accredited Verification Agencies to firstly weigh up their commercial interests and legal position (as stipulated above) before taking a decision.
This statement is issued by the National Association of BEE Consultants (NABC).
National Association of BEE Consultants (NABC)
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