LETTER: Complete transparency is essential

2022/06/27 22:08:00

LETTER: Complete transparency is essential

LETTER: Complete transparency is essential

It would be churlish to expect importers in the poultry industry to hold their prices after being hit by an avalanche of tariff increases

Izaak Breitenbach refers (“VAT is one issue the chicken industry can agree on”, June 23).The headline looks great, inferring that local chicken producers and importers are on the same side of the fence attempting to assist consumers by convincing the government to eliminate VAT on chicken.

This would translate to an immediate reduction in chicken prices of just over 13% (not 15% as claimed — run the numbers).But wait, there’s a catch. Look at the detail — the local poultry petition is couched in such language that, if granted, VAT on its largest income producer, individually quick frozen portions (IQF) would go, but the VAT removal would not apply to imported leg quarters, the item claimed to be the principal threat to the local industry.

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The letter from the SA Poultry Association’s Izaak Breitenbach refers (“ VAT is one issue the chicken industry can agree on ”, June 23).23 June 2022 - 05:00 I assure LEA Callaghan ( Letters , June 2) that though he may think I am a member of the FM’s staff, I am not.Image: Fanie Mthupha.23 June 2022 - 05:00 I assure LEA Callaghan ( Letters , June 2) that though he may think I am a member of the FM’s staff, I am not.

The headline looks great, inferring that local chicken producers and importers are on the same side of the fence attempting to assist consumers by convincing the government to eliminate VAT on chicken. This would translate to an immediate reduction in chicken prices of just over 13% (not 15% as claimed — run the numbers). Sadly, the common thread is tackling government incompetence and its cavalier attitude to its citizens. But wait, there’s a catch. Such neglect, along with increasingly adverse weather conditions, has led to a proliferation of potholes across the city with no community spared. Look at the detail — the local poultry petition is couched in such language that, if granted, VAT on its largest income producer, individually quick frozen portions (IQF) would go, but the VAT removal would not apply to imported leg quarters, the item claimed to be the principal threat to the local industry. Nowadays, despite having highly paid “spokespeople” there is a stony silence. That is manipulative, aimed at obtaining a substantial price advantage. Thankfully, there are strong editors who tackle the government’s incompetence and “don’t care” attitude.

I would suggest that if the protagonists are to agree, complete transparency is essential. It behoves us to stand up and object to below-standard service from the very people to whom we pay substantial taxes. Overall a welcome R285m has been sourced for road repairs and rehabilitation. For the rest, I think Breitenbach’s letter makes some excellent points. The plea by importers for the removal of import tariffs is, to me, nothing more than a publicity stunt. They can be sent to. The egg simply cannot be unscrambled, and in any event importers surprisingly signed the much-vaunted Poultry Master Plan, which has as one of its main pillars a reduction of import market share. Signing this was nothing less than turkeys voting for Christmas.

  I wasn’t present, but it is obvious that there is no way local poultry producers could or would seriously guarantee not to increase prices. They never did this once in the 10 years of my industry  involvement, only agreeing to limit increases.  Their recent dumping application also made that clear. The headwinds the industry has faced over the last few years, especially the enormous increases in feed and transport costs, could only result in price increases to ensure ongoing healthy profitability. Not doing so would have been detrimental to the interests of both shareholders and staff.

Looking at the increases so far this year I — as a former foe — see them as unfortunate but essential, and lower than expected. At the same time, it would be churlish to expect importers to hold their prices after being hit by an avalanche of tariff increases. While I remain highly critical of importers being party to the master plan, their participation is a fact, so I suggest they have only two choices — proceed in the pursuit of the plan’s goals or withdraw. As the saying goes, you cannot be half pregnant.  David Wolpert Rivonia JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an email with your comments to letters@businesslive.

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