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Feeding Scheme Calls For Vat Relief On Chicken

THE CAMPAIGN to have chicken exempted from VAT has gained a new voice.

Liesel Koen from Stellenbosch Feeding in Action said more affordable chicken would make a material difference to the lives of the people her organisation serves. “Due to affordability we mainly use mince and soya with dry ingredients such as pasta, samp and rice,” Koen said. “Although chicken is really popular, we can no longer buy it as it has simply become too expensive.

“We can therefore only serve chicken when it is donated to us.” Should chicken become more affordable – thanks to a VAT exemption, for instance – Koen expected that good Samaritans would be more willing to donate, resulting in two important outcomes: “We’d be able to add more variety to our menu and the nutritional value of meals we offer would increase.

“Dishes like breyani, chicken stew and pastas that include chicken are always hits with the community we serve.”

Koen is Stellenbosh Feeding in Action’s project manager and few people can teach her anything about balancing a food budget.

“People like Liesel remind us of the thousands of feeding schemes across the country and that they need our help to not only supply enough food, but also give sufficient nutrition to the people who depend on them,” said Francois Baird, founder of FairPlay, a social movement that wants to stop predatory trade practices, notably dumping.

The movement recently made common cause with organisations and individuals who want to see chicken included in the basket of VAT-free food. The existing basket is being reviewed by a panel of experts.

FairPlay is already on the frontline of the battle to stop the dumping of chicken by mainly European and South American producers in South Africa.

“Our work in this arena made us realise just how much South African consumers love chicken and that the majority of low-income households view it as their preferred protein,” said Baird.

“Our local poultry industry is truly under the whip and VAT exemption would give it a major boost, resulting in growth, investment and job creation. We entered into the VAT debate because we are convinced that VAT-free chicken will be to the benefit of our society as a whole.”

Baird argued that health and quality of life of low-income families would improve when they could afford to eat more and better quality animal proteins. In this process, national challenges such as the cognitive and physical development of children and scholastic progress would also be addressed.

“Stats SA reported that about a third of all children in Gauteng and the Free State are stunted as a result of chronic malnutrition and these children can never reach their full potential.

“This is a national tragedy that should be preventable, starting with improved accessibility to affordable protein,” he said.

In addition, VAT exemption would stimulate demand, resulting in growth in the local poultry industry.

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