The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina has promised leaders in the  leather sector that government will look closely into the issue of the Skin and Hides Policy, and how the South African raw material can be protected to support local manufactures. She was speaking on the last day of the week-long Siyahlola Programme in the Western Cape.

The Siyahlola programme is a national project aimed at enabling the government to understand operational challenges of businesses supported by the government, especially in light of the impact of the Covid 19 on the economy in genera, through visits to their premises and interaction.

Gina visited the shoe-manufacturing plant of Bolton Footwear’s Grasshoper brand in George, where the Group’s Head of Finance, Mr Noel Whitehead, appealed for government’s policy intervention to cushion local manufacturers of leather products from the effects of imports of raw materials.

The South African Clothing, Textile Footwear and Leather sector retailer imports typically dominated in 2016 with clothing, textiles, footwear and leather product purchases at 53.9%, 56.0%, 61.1% and 48.9% of the total purchases, respectively.

In order to address the challenges at hand, the Retail-Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather (R-CTFL) Masterplan participants and stakeholders endorsed seven commitments, one of them being to increase local procurement.

Gina has assured the sector that government will have a re-look at the policy gaps.

“Government is committed to promoting and supporting local industries and therefore, we take seriously issues raised that hamper growth and employment opportunities. We would therefore spend our energies focusing on addressing those policy issues that hinder our industries,”  said Gina.

Bolton Footwear has been a beneficiary of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (the dtic) Production Incentive Programme (PIP) grant from 2009 to 2019 for upgrading plant capacity, technology maturation and automation in the Southern Cape, which covers Great Brak River and Oudtshoorn.

The R-CTFL value chain is a major contributor to the SA economy, with retail playing a much larger role than the manufacturing portion of the value chain since the retail trade is still largely import oriented. The value chain’s total GDP contribution is R74 billion, while its employment contribution is 210,071. Based on SA’s 2016 economic position, this equates to a 1.7% contribution to GDP, and a 1.33% contribution to total employment.

Whitehead today told Deputy Minister Gina that the shoe manufacturing industry as a whole saw a 20% reduction in local production as a result of Covid 19 restrictions. The company experienced a 7.9 reduction in sales across their brands.

However, Whitehead added that as a company, they put measures in place, to minimise the impact of the pandemic on jobs. Among those were a six-month 25% pay cut for employees at all levels.

Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson
Tel: (012) 394 1650
Mobile: 079 492 1774
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
Follow us on Twitter: @the_dti

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