Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel had “kicked the poultry industry when it’s down,” FairPlay said in a statement in reaction to tariff rebates for chicken imports.
FairPlay said poultry producers had just suffered the worst year in their history, with huge losses caused by load shedding, infrastructure failures, high input costs and severe outbreaks of bird flu.
“Instead of a plan to support South Africa’s beleaguered poultry industry, the government has imposed another unnecessary burden in the form of subsidised imports of nearly every chicken product.
“This is shortsighted, ill-advised, unnecessary and foolhardy in the extreme. What were Minister Patel and his advisers thinking?” FairPlay asked.
It noted that the rebates could only be applied for if there were chicken shortages caused by bird flu.
“Neither condition applies at the moment – bird flu has abated, the local poultry market is in oversupply and prices are dropping.
“If that is not enough, the regulations are vague and embarrassing. There is no definition or threshold of what constitutes a shortage and moreover how is it to be determined whether any shortage, of which there is none, is being caused by bird flu?
“How is one to make sense of these unfathomable absurdities?”
FairPlay said Minister Patel must explain to the country why, when there is no local chicken shortage, he has imposed unnecessary tariff rebates which are going to add to the poultry industry’s losses. Jobs will be lost, too, and investment which would have created more jobs is likely to be withheld.
“What the industry needs is a helping hand, not to be kicked when it’s down.”
It noted that the only winners would be the chicken importers looking forward to huge profits and who “are already jumping for joy” FairPlay stated.