South Africa

LETTER: With consumer financed levies, the end-user pays

I refer to my recent letter in which I suggested that the suspension of consumer financed levies, currently totalling about R800m per annum, could provide desperately needed financial relief for our poor and hungry people (“Time to suspend agriculture levies,” February 17).

However one structures it, the end-user pays. Being a small shareholder in the food sector, I have since scrutinised the websites of about a dozen representative bodies of the various agricultural industries involved and arrived at the following conclusions:

All mention the statutory levy, yet there is scant evidence of any reconciliation between levy receipts and matching expenditure. Of course there would be audit verifications, but these should be made public.

Statutory levies are indeed meaningful and appear to be effectively utilised in developing and promoting exports and export markets, which create jobs and real wealth for SA. But why are SA consumers paying levies on locally produced and consumed, and even imported, staple foods?

Meat, milk, grain, potatoes, sorghum and maize come to mind. With real total unemployment currently at a record high of 42.6%, the number of starving people in SA runs into millions, yet we charge them levies on many basic foods.

Whatever the benefits, surely this is not the time. Add all these levies together over a few years and the poor consumer is being placed under huge ongoing pressure while merely trying to survive.

Craig Dennis Wilson
Gallo Manor

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