Posted: December 11, 2014
Remarks by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies at the Destruction of Non-Compliant Products Function in Durban, 11 December 2014
|Mr Eric Apelgren, representing EThekwini Mayor, Councilor James NxumaloExecutive Chairperson of National Consumer Tribunal, Ms Diane Terblanche
CEO of National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), Mr. Asogen Moodley
Ladies and Gentlemen it is not the first and I hope certainly not last time I attend an NRCS destruction event. I say this because what we can see today is proof of the steady improvement in stepping up our response to destroying non-compliant products. The product destroyed today would have been sold to unsuspecting consumers, causing harm to our citizens and to the environment. The more we improve, the lesser this danger.
The NRCS is a, if not the, critical tool that we have to curb illegal and harmful sub-standard products imported into the country.
With regard to non-compliant products the NRCS has the simple objective of locking out sub-standard, unsafe, non-compliant and harmful products from our market. Implementation is more complex and, the NRCS utilises a range of compliance assessment tools including sampling, inspections and sanctioning of products, as well as examination of documentary evidence to realise this mandate.
To comply with international obligations as a signatory to the WTO/TBT agreement, the NRCS is charged with recalling all non-compliant products from the market and apply sanctions and penalties to the importers, manufacturers, distributors and sellers where non-compliant products are attempted to be traded.
These compliance assessment tools also ensure that products manufactured locally, or imported into the country comply with the relevant compulsory specifications thereby contributing to the international competitiveness of locally manufactured products.
During recent market surveillance activities, substandard products estimated at a value of R134 million were identified, intercepted and confiscated. The products destroyed today amount to R13.2 million, in addition to the R40.060 million worth of fishery products already destroyed by the Industry with permission from the NRCS. These products were found to compromise the safety of consumers with defects that could not be corrected.
Certain products have been approved to be destroyed at this destruction function, due to the deemed serious nature of non-compliance.
Indeed, this destruction function is a culmination of a series of events which include market surveillance inspections, sampling and sending products to accredited laboratories for testing in order to ascertain their safety.
The products ranges from hotplates, vacuum cleaners, cameras , safety helmets, brake pads, plastic carrier bags, steam irons, plugs, respirators, adaptors, compact florescent lamps, incandescent lamps for vehicles, cell phone chargers, paraffin stoves, Christmas lights, TV games, dvd players, extension cords, cigarette lighters, chemicals, swimming aids, body massager, hair straighteners, table lamps to toilet papers, toothpaste and nail polish among others.
I must also mention that identification and confiscation of non-compliant products came about through joint operations with other government agencies such as the South African Revenue Services (SARS), South African Police Services (SAPS), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Department of Transport, among others.
The table below details the quantities, value and reason for non-compliance
CHEMICAL, MECHANICAL AND MATERIALS
Ladies and gentlemen, these non-compliant products we are destroying negatively impact the health and safety of South African consumers and environmentand impact our economy in significant ways.
I therefore once again urge our importers to adhere to the prescribed rules and regulations and not supply the market with unsafe, non-complaint goods.
As the dti we are encouraged by the tenacity and commitment shown by NRCS to deal with non-compliance in the market. Even though the rate of compliance among the Industry is still a concern, as I said earlier what we see today is evidence of increasing levels of compliance including in the increase of LOA applications submitted to the NRCS for processing. I know that some concern has been expressed through representations to my office concerning the length of time it takes to process applications. I wish to assure interested parties that after a benchmarking exercise was undertaken to determine international best practice, the NRCS has undertaken to process all applications within 120 days.
This is despite the fact that the number of LOA applications has increased from a monthly average of approximately 500 – 700 applications in the past years to 1000 – 1600 applications currently within the Electro technical industry alone. The increase in LOA applications can be attributed to the success of the source inspections at the port of entry of products in South Africa.
The NRCS adopted border or port of entry inspections and a risk based approach to its enforcement activities. These two strategies are supported by enhanced collaboration with other stakeholders such as South African Revenue Services (SARS), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Consumer Commission to maximize compliance with technical regulations and to give effect to the Consumer Protection Act.
From this analysis, it can be deduced that the NRCS has made an impact on the marketplace. The NRCS is now a recognised key participant in joint operations with other government agencies at the ports of entry and in the marketplace.
A recent example was at the Cape Town harbor where ten containers, with approximately 212 000 non-compliant incandescent lamps and valued at about R2.1 million were seized in a joint collaboration efforts with SARS.
NRCS has also heeded the call to respond to the country’s energy constraints. Working jointly with Departments of Trade and Industry, Energy, and the industry, a compulsory specification (VC 8043) was published in February designed to replace inefficient lamps such as traditional incandescent lamps. It came into effect in November 2014. This compulsory specification intends to promote the safety, performance and quality of incandescent lamps intended for household and general lighting services.
The VC 9091 published in 2010 regulates the energy efficiency, safety and performance of CFL’s (compact fluorescent lamps). To date, approximately 432 000 units of CFL’s and incandescent lamps were found in Durban alone and will form part of the products earmarked for destruction today as result of the implementation of the VC.
In addition to the products that will be destroyed today, the NRCS, working together with the Foods and Associated Industries have destroyed fishery products valued at R40,060 million that did not meet the compulsory safety requirements. These included mostly imported products such as hake, pilchards, shark and salmon products that failed due to defective cans, microbiological shortcomings,high levels of parasites and high mercury content.
In February 2014, the NRCS through the Department of Trade and Industry also published the regulation for energy efficiency and labelling of electrical appliances (VC 9008). The first phase (November 2014) will see a minimum standby power of 1 watt for all audio visual and IT equipment being set. The second phase (April 2015) will require that certain products with high electricity usage such as refrigerators, electric oven, stoves, washing machines and dish washers be marked with an energy efficiency label, similar to the one used in the European market.
The third phase (December 2015) will introduce labeling requirements for air conditioners used for domestic and light commercial application.
The NRCS, working together with the Department of Energy and other role players, are also currently involved in an economic impact assessment study to determine the effect of implementing energy efficiency and labeling regulation for water heaters (electric geysers). Once this process has been completed, the NRCS will initiate the amendment to the current regulation of water heaters (VC 9006) to include the recommended minimum energy performance standards.
In addition, the NRCS was tasked by the Department of Energy (in terms of the National Energy Act) and the Department of Trade and Industry, with the development and the subsequent enforcement of the compulsory specification for energy efficiency and labeling requirements of apparatus to ensure that all manufacturers, retailers and importers comply with the regulations.
Further to this, the NRCS will later this financial year conduct a massive inspection raid to check the level of compliance of CFL’s in the marketto ensure that only energy efficient products are available in the South African market and thus, contributing to energy saving initiatives and economic growth.
In conclusion, I would like to recall what I said at a similar event in October 2009. I said then that I wish to encourage the NRCS to make an extra-ordinary effort to ensure that non-compliant products are located and destroyed. I think we can all be proud of our destruction efforts since then in steadily increasing the destruction of both the quantity and value of non-compliant goods Congratulations again!