Feed­ing scheme calls for VAT re­lief on chicken

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CHARMAIN LINES

THE CAM­PAIGN to have chicken ex­empted from VAT has gained a new voice.

Liesel Koen from Stel­len­bosch Feed­ing in Ac­tion said more af­ford­able chicken would make a ma­te­rial dif­fer­ence to the lives of the peo­ple her or­gan­i­sa­tion serves.

“Due to af­ford­abil­ity we mainly use mince and soya with dry in­gre­di­ents such as pasta, samp and rice,” Koen said. “Al­though chicken is re­ally pop­u­lar, we can no longer buy it as it has sim­ply be­come too ex­pen­sive.

“We can there­fore only serve chicken when it is do­nated to us.”

Should chicken be­come more af­ford­able – thanks to a VAT ex­emp­tion, for in­stance – Koen ex­pected that good Sa­mar­i­tans would be more will­ing to do­nate, re­sult­ing in two im­por­tant out­comes:

“We’d be able to add more va­ri­ety to our menu and the nu­tri­tional value of meals we of­fer would in­crease.

“Dishes like breyani, chicken stew and pas­tas that in­clude chicken are al­ways hits with the com­mu­nity we serve.”

Koen is Stel­len­bosh Feed­ing in Ac­tion’s project man­ager and few peo­ple can teach her any­thing about bal­anc­ing a food bud­get.

“Peo­ple like Liesel re­mind us of the thou­sands of feed­ing schemes across the coun­try, and that they need our help to not only sup­ply enough food, but also give suf­fi­cient nu­tri­tion to the peo­ple who de­pend on them,” said Fran­cois Baird, founder of FairPlay, a so­cial move­ment that wants to stop preda­tory trade prac­tices, no­tably dump­ing.

The move­ment re­cently made com­mon cause with or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­di­vid­u­als who want to see chicken in­cluded in the bas­ket of VAT-free food. The ex­ist­ing bas­ket is be­ing re­viewed by a panel of ex­perts.

FairPlay is al­ready on the front­line of the bat­tle to stop the dump­ing of chicken by mainly Euro­pean and South Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers in South Africa.

“Our work in this arena made us re­alise just how much South African con­sumers love chicken and that the ma­jor­ity of low-in­come house­holds view it as their pre­ferred pro­tein,” said Baird.

“Our lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try is truly un­der the whip and VAT ex­emp­tion would give it a ma­jor boost, re­sult­ing in growth, in­vest­ment and job cre­ation. We en­tered into the VAT de­bate be­cause we are con­vinced that VAT-free chicken will be to the ben­e­fit of our so­ci­ety as a whole.”

Baird ar­gued that health and qual­ity of life of low-in­come fam­i­lies would im­prove when they could af­ford to eat more and bet- ter qual­ity an­i­mal pro­teins. In this process, na­tional chal­lenges such as the cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of chil­dren and scholas­tic progress would also be ad­dressed.

“Stats SA re­ported that about a third of all chil­dren in Gaut­eng and the Free State are stunted as a re­sult of chronic mal­nu­tri­tion and these chil­dren can never reach their full po­ten­tial.

“This is a na­tional tragedy that should be pre­ventable, start­ing with im­proved ac­ces­si­bil­ity to af­ford­able pro­tein,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, VAT ex­emp­tion would stim­u­late de­mand, re­sult­ing in growth in the lo­cal poul­try in­dus­try.

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