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Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Chicken importers clearly don’t like the idea of having to justify their applications for import tariff rebates. Paul Matthew says the conditions set by trade regulator Itac mean few, if any, applications will be approved (“Itac rebates have the fox guarding the chickens”, February 13).

He complains that the Itac rebate guidelines “include a quota system, historically disadvantaged individual requirements, and a process to justify shortages”. What he seems to resent most of all is that Itac and the agriculture department will have to determine whether there is a shortage of chicken on the local market, and that they will probably rely, at least in part, on information from poultry producers.

Who else does he think will know how many chickens are being produced each week? Matthew’s problem is that the rebates would be extremely profitable for importers, bringing increased volumes and higher margins, but if there is no chicken shortage there will be no rebate permits.

The guidelines clearly state that temporary rebates will be granted only if there is a shortage of chicken on the local market, and then only if that shortage is the result of a bird flu outbreak. Both conditions are necessary, and importers will know that neither pertains now. Hence Matthew’s concern that “the likelihood of any rebates being granted is remote”.

He also complains about the rebates being in force for only three months at a time. Importers had dreamed of a 12-month revenue bonanza, but they were rebuffed. It seems their path to greater riches is not as smooth as they had hoped. Instead of blaming their woes on Itac and the local poultry industry, they should look closer to home.

Francois Baird
Founder, FairPlay

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