Schlettwein seeking legal advice

WINDHOEK; The Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein is seeking legal advice in light of recent media reports that he misled Cabinet about the allocation of the 2014 Norwegian beef quota.

In a media statement issued last week, Schlettwein refuted the defamatory allegations made against him in an article titled ‘Calle accused of misleading Cabinet’ in local daily Confidénte on 08 May 2014.

It was alleged that Schlettwein informed Cabinet last year that the Keetmanshoop-based Brukarros Meat Processors, one of the three companies that qualified for the quota, has a beef export permit.

In the media statement, the minister said the allegation is “factually false, malicious and devoid of any truth”.

“The fact that Brukarros Meat Processors did not have the European Union (EU) certification for beef export was the reason for a conditional allocation of 100 tonnes to it. In fact, the certification that I was referring to in the Cabinet Submission of 27 November 2013 pertains to the capacity and experience of Brukarros in that it has been in possession of an export certification, which allowed it to export de-boned lamb and venison to EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries,” he noted.

Cabinet made a decision in August 2010 that Namibia’s quota to export 1 600 tonnes of beef a year to Norway free of trade tariffs would be shared equally by the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) and Witvlei Meat.

Each of the two companies has been entitled to export 800 tonnes of duty-free beef to Norway every year since then.

The quota allocation was changed in late December last year, when Cabinet decided to allocate an export quota of 100 tonnes to Brukarros for 2014, while the share of the quota allocated to Meatco was increased to 1 200 tonnes and Witvlei Meat’s share for 2014 was cut to 300 tonnes.

The Meat Board of Namibia placed an advertisement in local newspapers on 08 October 2013 inviting organisations to apply for a share in the quota. Meatco, Witvlei Meat, and Brukarros Meat Processors applied.

The Meat Board then indicated that there is strong competition for the quota, with Witvlei seeking to maintain its 50 per cent share of the total quota as it had over the past two years. Meatco sought to increase its allocation to 80 per cent on the basis of its proportion of meat processing in the country; while Brukarros which in the past year obtained export certification, wishes to benefit too. It has however been noted that these expectations are not compatible and to avoid such quota allocations being seen as entitlement, it is considered necessary that the criteria for allocating the quota needs to be revisited.

“Therefore, I vehemently deny that I misled or informed Cabinet that Brukarros was eligible for the Norwegian beef quota. In view of the serious nature of the allegations, in particular the unwarranted and reckless suggestion of dishonesty on my part, the matter is now being handled by my legal practitioners on the basis of whose advice and next course of action will be followed,” Schlettwein said.