LETTER: Basic economics eludes acting minister
According to Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, manufacturers can simply make replacements when stolen goods are destroyed
Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has defended a decision to destroy goods recovered from the recent looting sprees in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. According to her, the stolen goods are no different from counterfeit products and should therefore be destroyed. Yet she ought to know that on recovery, stolen goods remain the property of either the rightful owner or the insurer that stood in for the loss.
The minister further argues that allowing stolen goods to be left in the hands of the looters, sold at giveaway prices or donated would have devastating economic consequences. According to her, when stolen goods are destroyed manufacturers can simply make replacement products available to the market, companies can continue to operate and pay salaries, and the country benefits in terms of tax collection. “That is basic economics,” she said.
Either the minister has somehow stumbled upon a panacea for SA’s faltering economy through the encouragement of even more looting or she ought to be removed from her position and sponsored for a course in Economics 101. Whether the looting was motivated by hunger, poverty or greed, items were looted because they have value. By destroying the recovered items value is destroyed, and the resultant losses suffered by individuals, business and insurers represent a cost to the economy.
We can safely assume a large majority of the looters are indeed poor and hungry. They are poor and hungry because they are either unemployable or there are no jobs for them. They are unemployable and jobless because their government is ideologically hamstrung and not competent in managing and growing a modern economy.
What our economy urgently needs is not more of Ntshavheni’s muti, but freeing the country from outdated ideological pursuits, a drastic overhaul of the education system, the relaxation of restrictive labour legislation and bureaucratic prescripts, the encouragement of private initiative and the embracing of the private sector.
It unfortunately seems unlikely that this will happen under the current executive.
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