Infant Industry Protection is flawed: NCT (The Namibia Press Agency)

The Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT) has lashed out about government turning a blind eye on the impact of, and the lack of understanding of the Infant Industry Protection (IIP) among consumers.

IIP protects and nurtures local industries such as the imposition of an import duty levy on imported goods; a quantitative restriction on imports; granting of targeted and performance based incentivized subsidies to stimulate local production; and ensure market supply.

NCT Executive Director Michael Gaweseb in a media statement issued on Tuesday raised the concern that the IIP as carried out currently, is imperfect and consumers have not been involved in the decision making process thereof.

However, IIP as carried out currently, is flawed and its impact besides benefits to the manufacturer is little understood because consumers have not been involved in the decision making process all along. It is worth mentioning that Namibia does not have a comprehensive consumer protection law, which makes government look bias in favour of business interest, he noted.

Gawaseb responded after the Namibia Dairies – a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver and List (O and L) Group announced last week Thursday that Namibia’s entire dairy industry is on the verge of collapse and requires urgent intervention in order to survive. It warned that the industry is not able to compete with the cheap imports flooding the Namibian market.

IIP granted to the milk industry will not result in long term sustainability of the local diary producer, Namibia Diaries, according to Gawaseb.

IIP is a policy that lacks compassion for the poor as every citizen, rich or poor pay value added tax (VAT).

IIP further exacerbate income inequalities amongst Namibians, thus it is currently outdated considering the commendable poverty eradication drive and that no Namibian should be left behind, according to Gawaseb.

He accused the industry of being favored as the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development funds associations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Namibia Manufacturers Association, amongst others, but is undecided on supporting consumer protection, according to Gawaseb.

Gawaseb emphasized that there is need for national dialogue on these restrictions. The maize industry allegedly sneaked in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) up to nearly 90 per cent of total supply with the reluctance from the Ministry of Higher Education to take action.

NCT has since 2012 warned consumers about GMOs in Top Score maize meal.

The high prices contributed by IIP, disconnects consumers from access to good nutrition and access to housing. The industry receives financial and import limiting protection from government, but these may not always result in increased food security, he added.