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Food for Thought: DOOR NOW OPEN FOR PIRATES TO CAPTURE THE COATINGS SECTOR

10 Sep 2018

Food for Thought:

DOOR NOW OPEN FOR PIRATES TO CAPTURE THE COATINGS SECTOR

When you view present day South Africa objectively, from a non-political perspective - which is almost impossible to do - there are not too many things going right. When our politicians are not sure to whom they have sworn allegiance (South Africa and its Constitution or the ANC), you don’t have to make an enormous leap to understand where the inculcated culture of self-interest and corruption comes from: our country is now no longer dreaming or planning for success. We seem quite content to accept failure.

Obama’s popular US election war cry of “Yes, we can!” has been bastardised to “We demand!” The dominant interpretation or doctrines of our politicians are no longer a quest for the improvement of our people and country - and how best to achieve this - because pure unbridled greed has tempered those noble intentions to a pre-occupation to remain in power for as long as possible… to keep my place at the feeding trough… to the benefit of me - not my country.

While this political game of musical chairs is taking place and everyone is watching their backs and dodging prosecution and allegations of fraud, who has the time to worry about the mundane things…. like the economy? Going off at a tangent has been honed to fine art. Go off at a tangent, change the subject, create doubt and blame someone else…. like Jan van Riebeek, Colonialism, Apartheid, or White Capital monopoly and then make speeches declaring that “We have a lot to be proud of”.

Should we be proud of the likes of SAA, Eskom, the railways, hospitals, education with 30% pass rates, SABC, SABS, free tertiary education, the performance of our municipalities, the new Mining Charter, being relegated to junk status, uncontrolled crime and, not to forget our greatest achievement, being voted as the rape capital of the world?

All flavoured with the cry that has become our standard: “We demand!”

Who is going to pay for it, you may ask? Business, of course. The golden goose which is systematically being plucked before our very eyes.

Just recently, SAPMA was advised that our Government, through recommendations made by the seemingly omnipotent National Economic Development & Labour Council (NEDLAC), decided to negotiate for the abolishment of Chapter 39 import duties, specifically resins, from Egypt and the East African community. This decision was made with the endorsement of NEDLAC - without the slightest consultation with the coatings industry or SAPMA. Or without any thought of conducting a business impact study to see how this move would affect the nine local manufacturers - who were not consulted either.

When we put the manufacturers’ case to the DTI, we were told that DTI was not allowed to consult with industry, under instruction from NEDLAC!

We were then advised by the Director General of DTI that the negotiations for import duty abolishment were “too far gone” and that the DTI could now not pull out of the negotiations.

Now it must be remembered, that just four years ago Egyptian products were dumped onto our market. The imports proved to be under specification compared with samples provided, leading to the payment of millions of rand in compensation. To make matters worse, Egypt - as a member of OPEC - enjoys cheap prices for solvents, labour costs that are significantly lower than in SA, and the Egyptian Government provides US $2.4 billion in export subsidies, allowing their exporters to land their product in SA at below our manufacturing cost. And now it will also be import duty free.

So, when SA companies close because they cannot compete against these pirates, the cry will come “What about our jobs?”

Indeed, what about all these people’s jobs – at a time when unemployment is rampant in our country?

Perhaps the all-powerful NEDLAC can provide an answer.

DERYCK SPENCE

Executive Director – SAPMA.

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