Meat Board stripped of poultry permits

Anti-competitive practices alleged

03 September 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) has found that the Meat Board of Namibia is unable to justify the way poultry import quotas are allocated.

Furthermore, the requirement that all importers buy from local sources to qualify for a quota has resulted in the growth of a single supplier.

The NaCC opted not to launch further investigations into the allegations against the Meat Board, but has engaged the trade ministry to develop modalities to address its conduct. The responsibility for the issuing and allocation import permits has now been transferred to the trade ministry.

This follows the NaCC receiving a complaint regarding the alleged anti-competitive practices by the Meat Board.



'Unfair and biased'

According to the commission, the complaint alleged that the Meat Board's administration of the permit and quota system is unfair, biased and not based on objective criteria.

It was further alleged that the Meat Board's requirements unfairly favoured larger importers at the expense of smaller importers.

“The aforementioned allegations were alleged to amount to the limiting or controlling of production, market outlets or access, technical development or investment and the applying of dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties as envisaged in terms of the Competition Act,” the NaCC said. “The investigation has revealed that one local producer seems to have thrived despite the fact that the quotative restrictions that were introduced were ostensibly meant to facilitate the growth of an entire industry, as opposed to benefitting a single supplier.”

The NaCC said there has thus not been any notable growth in the number of poultry producers and attempts by other producers to register and be eligible to benefit from the requirement to buy from local sources have also been prevented for unknown reasons.



No proof

Despite the Meat Board's claims that the size of the quotas allocated to a particular importer is attributed to the amount of local poultry the importer has purchased, it was unable to provide proof, the NaCC said. “In particular, it appears that some importers seem to be getting the biggest share of the import quotas, despite a lack of evidence of the volumes of poultry that is sourced.”

The commission concluded that the Meat Board may have engaged in dissimilar treatment in the allocation of import quotas. The NaCC proposed that the trade ministry revises the implementation of the “buy local” requirement insofar as it relates or applies to SMEs and other new market entrants.

It also proposed that information submitted by local producers regarding the local buying of importers to determine the size of the quotas allocated should be audited by an independent party to avoid information possibly being manipulated.