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2009-10-06 - REMARKS BY MINISTER DAVIES FOR NRCS
REMARKS BY THE TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER, DR ROB DAVIES AT THE DESTRUCTION OF GOODS FUNCTION: 6 OCTOBER 2009

Chairperson of the NRCS Board
Members of the NRCS Board
Acting CEO of NRCS
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentleman

I am thankful for the opportunity to address you briefly this morning.

Standards are becoming an increasingly important issue in both domestic economic regulation and in international trade.  There are any number of unscrupulous operators (both domestic and abroad) that are willing to inflict on our consumers a host of poor quality, unsafe and downright harmful products.  At the same time, we face an increased use of standards as protectionist measures to create technical barriers to keep out competitive export products.  It is for that reason that our own development efforts require that we have in place an effective Standards, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SAQM) infrastructure.  Now more than ever our everyday life depends on our ability to enforce standards to ensure the safety of products, the quality of the environment, the energy supply services and the success of export industries, among others.

Technical regulations  prescribe  the  basic  standards goods traded in our markets need to obtain, but those   requirements need  to  be  competently  measured  and   measurements  need  to  be  compatible  with  a country’s trading partners to facilitate trade. Very importantly, consumers need to be confident that the goods they purchase are accurately measured, safe for use and of appropriate quality for their needs.

It is against this backdrop that a review of SQAM infrastructure was undertaken here in South Africa almost a decade ago and we have made very significant advances in implementation since then. We have described overarching objectives of SQAM policy as being to ‘lock out’ of our market sub standard unsafe and harmful products, while simultaneously working to “lock in” South Africa producers and exporters into international markets through our ability to improve standards and quality assurance.

The NCRC’s mandate is to promote public safety and consumer protection through the enforcement of compulsory minimum standards for the safety of products and services. The NRCS does so through a range of compliance assessment tools – sampling, inspection and sanctioning of products, and examination of documentary evidence. This execution of its mandate ensures that products manufactured or imported comply with the relevant compulsory specifications. In full compliance with our international obligations as a signatory to the WTO/TBT agreement, the NCRS is charged with recalling all the non-complying products from the market applying sanctions and penalties to the manufacturers, distributors and sellers in cases where the abuse of consumers is taking place. 

Ladies and gentlemen, what we are witnessing today is the culmination of routine surveillance inspections which identified a range of non-compliant products in the market. Directives were issued by the acting CEO instructing the retailers to keep the products in their possession and the Board’s directives were then issued instructing the retailers to have the products destroyed.  Some of the products that will be destroyed today were in fact voluntarily handed over to NRCS by retailers who acknowledged that their products do not comply and that the use of these products will harm consumers should they be allowed to be sold.

I think it is also very important to mention that as a country we must become ever more vigilant to the damage that unchecked smuggling of goods, especially unsafe goods, can do to the sustainability of our businesses and health of our people. The products destroyed today have a nominal value of millions of rands. Disturbingly these products include paraffin heaters and stoves, motorcycle helmets, child restraints and electrical equipment. The malfunctioning of these products can therefore lead to very serious injuries and devastating consequences for individuals and families. As government, we are therefore committed to locking out non compliant products especially since most of these products are being sold to poor people who often do not yet have access to the necessary information on safety standards and their rights in this regard.  

I therefore wish to end off by encouraging the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications to make an extra-ordinary effort to ensure that non-compliant products are located and destroyed.

I also want to strongly encourage the industry both employers and labour, to work together with the regulator. As a country, we have recognised that only by working together can we overcome the current economic crisis and this is another area in which more can be achieved by working together.

Thank you


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