Sugar cane fields. Picture: WALDO SWIEGERS
Sugar cane fields. Picture: WALDO SWIEGERS

President Cyril Ramaphosa says a new sugar master plan will be finalised within the next six weeks while a steel master plan will be in place within the coming six months.

The sugar and steel sectors are some of the many distressed sectors in SA.

The local sugar industry generates an income of about R14bn a year and is responsible for at least 350,000 jobs.

SA sugar producers have previously warned that the sector was on the verge of collapse and suggested that tariffs needed to be increased against cheaper imports from countries such as Brazil.

In his state of the nation address on Thursday, Ramaphosa also said government will within two weeks set a new poultry import tariff adjustment to support the local industry.

The SA Poultry Association has lodged an application to the International Trade Administration Commission (Itac) — the organisation tasked with customs tariff investigations, trade remedies, and import and export control — calling for an increase in the ad valorem tariff on bone-in and boneless frozen chicken portions to 82% from existing levels of 37% and 12% respectively.

“We have developed a plan with farmers and industrial users to save jobs in the sugar industry and will finalise a Sugar Master Plan within the next six weeks; and expect a new effective today, new regulations published in the Government Gazette will enable investigation and action against abuse of buyer power and price discrimination,” Ramaphosa said.

He said this will help even the playing field for small businesses and emerging entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, market inquiries into data services, the grocery retail market and health care have provided the basis for measures to reduce costs to consumers and make these sectors more competitive, he said.

“The competition authorities are now working towards a resolution with the large mobile operators to secure deep cuts to data prices across pre-paid monthly bundles, additional discounts targeted at low income households, a free daily allocation of data and free access to educational and other public interest websites.

“This is an important step to improve lives, bring people into the digital economy and stimulate online businesses,” the president said.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za