GOBABIS – Although the government is the single largest procurer in the country there is still no procurement policy in place that stipulates outright preference for locally produced goods.
“We in government realize that such preferential treatment could create a significant market for local producers,” said Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein.
In a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Tjekero Tewya, the minister said that it was for this reason that government, through the finance ministry, introduced amendments to the Tender Board Act to ensure that public funds are used to procure goods and services from Namibian producers and suppliers as a matter of preference. These amendments make provisions in the government tender system for a percentage preference for local suppliers.
“In order for this measure to work for its intended outcomes, however, local companies need to invest in developing the capacity to produce goods and services that will result in value for money for the government, consumers and beneficiaries. It is also important that these companies are truly Namibian entities and financial and employment benefits accrue to Namibians,” said Schlettwein during the inauguration ceremony of Soft Cloud, a toilet paper manufacturer in Gobabis.
Soft Cloud directors Lloyd Underhill and Ulrich Hanstein told New Era their company hopes to capitalize on the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s growth at home strategy which includes the proposed establishment of a local procurement support initiative, the retail charter as well as the trade competitiveness programme.
The trade ministry’s interventions in promoting market access at home and abroad are intended to stimulate the development of local industries by utilizing the potential of local procurement measures and by generating synergies between local producers and large retailers.
“Another main focus under this strategic area will be creating conditions that will boost Namibian exports, as well as the capacity of Namibian firms to supply and export goods at a competitive level,” remarked Schlettwein.
According to Underhill, 2012 figures showed that government ministries used as many as one million rolls of toilet paper a month.
“With 100 percent government support we could double our employment and increase our capacity,” said Underhill.
Hanstein, the other director of Soft Cloud, explained that the factory, which right now has a capacity of 500 000 rolls a month, is situated in Gobabis to encourage decentralization and for strategic import and export purposes.
“We opted for semi-automatic machines to create more employment. We also make our own core paper to be totally involved in the manufacturing process,” said Hanstein.