Small-scale farmers, workers and representatives of the sugar industry this week took their deepening concerns about the future of the sector directly to Members of Parliament (MPs) and Ministers during the Taking Parliament to the People (TPTTP) programme held at Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

Taking Parliament to the People is the flagship programme of the National Council of the Provinces, one of the two Houses of Parliament, which enables ordinary people at grassroots level to have their voices heard, especially regarding service delivery issues. The TPTTP forum offers citizens an opportunity to have a direct interaction with MPs and Ministers wherein they raise their issues and concerns. Farmers and farmworkers from several commodities flocked to the venue to tell their stories and challenges they are facing in the agricultural sector on the South Coast.

“We greatly appreciate the opportunity this week to present the case for the sugar industry to MPs and Ministers. Our main request is that there should be no sugar tax (Health Promotion Levy – HPL) increases for at least three years and there should be no lowering of the current threshold while we pursue diversification opportunities – through the master plan process – to ensure the sustainability of the industry. We are very pleased that Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Fikile Majola recognised the serious issues facing our industry, especially his agreeing with views expressed by farmers and workers that the HPL has had a deleterious impact on the industry since its introduction in April 2018. We are further encouraged by his undertaking that he would engage with National Treasury and Department of Health on the matter,” said SASA Executive Trix Trikam.

Trikam added: “We do not seek direct bailouts. In line with the approach being followed in other sectors nationally, we seek an opportunity to accomplish a just and fair transition in the sugar sector. The industry continues to deal with the severe impact of the HPL. Following implementation of the HPL in 2018, the industry has shed more than R8 billion in revenue. In addition, the industry has lost close to 10 000 jobs (according to an independent study commissioned by NEDLAC) and has had to close two mills due to the HPL exacerbating the already dire financial state of the sector.”

Source: SASA Media