Proudly South African, which encourages the consumption of locally produced products, was in talks with retailers and banks to launch a loyalty programme that would provide rebates to buyers of local products, the organisation's chief executive Leslie Sedibe said on Tuesday, 11 February.
Proudly South African has launched a loyalty programme for people who buy local products. Image: Eddy182182 Deviant Art
Speaking at the third national Proudly South African Buy Local summit and expo in Ekurhuleni, he said that the incentives would be more appealing than patriotism to the country's consumers.
In 2011 the local procurement accord was signed by government, business, labour unions and community bodies to raise the number of goods purchased locally to 75%.
Local producers in the textiles and poultry sectors have complained about the influx of cheap imports that have crippled manufacturing capacity and led to job cuts.
"It is not enough for us to say people must buy South African goods because of national pride and patriotism. We must ensure that we have programmes that connect the emotional with the rational," Sedibe said.
According to him the loyalty programme, which would be administered via a card "that looks like a credit card" follows the Buy Back campaign, which was unveiled in November last year.
The campaign with the tag line "Create jobs, secure our future" was launched by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies with television and multimedia presentations scheduled to run over six months.
Government representatives, Proudly South African, Manufacturing Circle and Absa signed a formal pledge to buy local at the summit.
"We want to be able, through our procurement decisions, to make sure that jobs come back to SA," Sedibe said.
Manufacturing Circle's managing director Coenraad Bezuidenhout said while imported products might be cheaper, local quality was better and turnaround times quicker.
"You can import stuff cheaply, but it won't be as fast and flexible as it would be if you got it here. One thing SA does is produce quality," Bezuidenhout said.
Manufacturing sector praised
European Union (EU) representative Axel Pougin de la Maisonneuve - who attended as a panelist - praised SA's manufacturing sector. He said investments in the country were a sign of trust and commitment, and there was "potential" for joint ventures between South African and EU firms.
According to De la Maisonneuve, 60% of joint ventures in the renewable energy independent power producers programme had an EU partner. "This is certainly the direction that has to be taken," he said.
He warned against the "easy knee-jerk reaction" of raising tariffs as a "policy reflex" to fighting foreign competition, and added that imports could be beneficial to the country.
"A healthy share of imports is required to ensure the future of your sectors, particularly the manufacturing sector," he said.
Bezuidenhout said a survey conducted by the body showed that 80% of South African manufacturers procured 40% of their product inputs in SA. But he said interruptions of water and electricity supply needed to be dealt with.
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