The Namibian government has approved a plan to raise the export levy on raw hides and skins from 30% to 60% in the case of hides and from 15% to 60% in the case of skins without consulting an advisory committee it ordered set up, which includes representatives from government departments and the private sector. No time frame was mentioned in a circular sent by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water & Rural Development’s directorate of planning to the Meat Board of Namibia on May 7 and ‘to my knowledge, nothing has yet been gazetted in this regard’, according to the board’s manager – information systems, Willie Schutz.

He said, however, that the Meat Board was not responsible for implementing hide and skin policies. The circular listed ten resolutions by the cabinet, all aimed at ‘strategies to promote value addition in the livestock, meat and leather industries and related downstream industries.’

Topping the list was a directive to the Meat Board to ‘closely monitor’ animal exports and report quarterly to the implementation and monitoring committee – the committee on which Schutz and chairman of the Leather and Allied Industries Association (LAIN) Kevin Davidow sit – ‘which shall, in turn, review the export target of 120,000 cattle per annum in order to ensure the availability of throughput for local processing capacity.’

Weaners were exempted from the levy for twelve months. The cabinet also agreed to maintain the current policy towards the export of sheep, allowing one sheep to be exported for every six slaughtered locally. The cabinet instructed the Meat Board to ‘put a mechanism in place to ensure that local slaughter capacity is fully utilised and feedlots are developed … effective within one month from the date of approval.’

It also sought to beef up local beneficiation: ‘The cabinet approves the value addition definition in the meat and leather industries to constitute ‘transformation of an original product into a new product or products by processing and/or manufacturing operations across the value chain of the industries with special emphasis on the degree of transformation.’

It directed various government departments to ‘expedite the process of exploring the possibility of amending the Meat Industry Act, 1981’ to transfer the granting of trading licenses to foreign livestock buyers, from the Meat Board to the Ministry of Trade & Industry. It agreed to postpone the implementation of a 15% export levy on goats for twelve months, ‘on condition that the Meat Board ensures the availability of alternative markets at the expiry date of this grace period.’