The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC), an entity of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) that life saving face masks will be subjected to zero duty on imports into South Africa.
This comes after I wrote to Minister Ebrahim Patel on 19 March 2020 requesting him to do so as part of the DA’s 10 ‘urgent steps’ he needed to take. Regrettably, no response or acknowledgment has been forthcoming from him.
With the release of the DA’s “Blue Book, which was sent to the President yesterday, it appears that the Minister has now been jolted into action as this recommendation was also in the “Blue Book”.
It is a pity that it has taken this long for a critical decision like this to be made, as many more masks could have been imported into South Africa at a 20% discount which the duty would have attracted, especially considering the huge shortage that healthcare workers are experiencing.
Be that as it may, rather late than never.
The DA believes it is now time for the DTIC to look at working with businesses that may have the ability to focus their factory-lines towards making masks. This will allow South Africa to build up local capacity while urgently importing the required masks needed by our frontline healthcare workers.
To this extent, the DA will be shortly launching a ‘match-making’ service which will allow manufactures, suppliers, and distributors to find one another in this period. We will then collate this information and present this to the DTIC in the hope that we can link these role-players to create a supply chain for local production of masks.
The DA remains committed to providing solutions to government and the public at large so that we continue to work together to beat Covid-19 in South Africa.