The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry met to consider the budget vote report. The Committee had met the previous and had made changes to the report. The purpose of the meeting was to review the changes that had been the previous day and to adopt the report.
Although the tariff for sugar has been increased, the Committee remained concerned about the sustainability of the sugar industry and its impact on small-scale cane growers. The Committee welcomed the Minister’s endeavours to develop an appropriate long-term strategy to ensure a sustainable sugar industry. They urged the Minister to investigate the appropriateness of the tariff and if found not to be effective, they said it should be increased further to protect the industry.
The majority (only the ANC) adopted the report while the opposition indicated that the needed to consult their party caucuses.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee members to the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry on Budget Vote 25: Economic Development and on Budget Vote 34: Trade and Industry. The Committee had discussed the draft report the previous day. During the meeting, the Committee would go through what had been discussed the previous day because there were a few issues that needed to be resolved.
The Chairperson asked Members if they had any comments regarding the changes that had been made the previous day.
Mr D Macpherson (DA) said that sugar farmers continue to battle with the tariff rate on imported sugar. The application that had been submitted to ITAC for a tariff of $856 per ton, but ITAC applied a tariff of only $ 656 dollars per ton. While farmers from across the spectrum had welcomed the increase in the tariff, it was clearly not enough to offset the sustained loses that they were continuing to make.
He said that the Minister, at any time, may request ITAC to investigate the appropriateness of the tariff and review its decision. If the industry does it, it can only be done every 12 months. Clearly, the industry cannot continue to wait for something to happen. He suggested that it would be very appropriate for the Committee to ask the Minister to investigate the appropriateness of the tariff. There is need to know whether is working. If found that it is not working, there should be consideration to implement a higher tariff which will assist farmers across the spectrum.
Ms P Mantashe (ANC) responded that everyone would love for the Minister to increase the tariff. However, according to the Department, ITAC cannot be able to do that within 12 months. The 12 months have not passed since the consideration of the tariff. It is not possible within 12 months.
The Chairperson said that, according to the feedback which the Committee now has, the Minister can increase the tariff within 12 months. This would be a quicker way to increase the tariff and it should be reflected in the recommendation of the Committee. A delay of a year might hurt the industry.
Committee Report Trade and Industry & Economic Development Budget Votes
The Chairperson invited Members to raise any issues they had as they considered the budget report page by page.
Ms Mantashe moved for the adoption of the report.
Ms N Motaung (ANC) seconded the adoption of the report
Mr Macpherson said that the DA would reserve the decision to support the report. The decision will be made after the the party's caucus meeting.
M Y Yako (EFF) said that the EFF was not in a position decide whether it supported the report. The decision would be made by the party has its caucus meeting.
Mr W Thring (ACDP) thanked the Chairperson and the support staff because the report had been dealt with. However, the decision on whether the ACDP supports the report will be made after his party’s caucus meeting.
The Chairperson acknowledged that while the members of the opposition agreed with what was in the report, certain issues might arise after they brief their caucus on the report.
The report was approved by the majority (only the ANC).
The meeting was adjourned.
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