The SA Canegrowers Association is shocked at Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s decision to hike the sugar tax by 5.2 percent. File Photo: IOL

DURBAN – The SA Canegrowers Association is shocked at Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s decision to hike the sugar tax by 5.2 percent amidst an imminent industry collapse and extensive job losses.

There is no way of sugar coating this tax hike. It is a bitter pill for every farmworker, land reform farmer and small-scale canegrower to swallow.

Updated data released just today shows the loss in revenue tops our previous calculations, amounting to a staggering R1.3bn in the 2018/19 season (which runs from April 1 to March 31). 

The higher than estimated revenue loss will no doubt translate into more job losses which could put up to 10 000 jobs at risk – in the cane-growing sector alone. This does not even include further job losses in the sugar milling and beverage industries.

The sugar tax has already dealt a huge blow to a sector struggling with the impact of drought, plunging sugar prices and weak protection against cheap imports. The decision to increase the tax further could be the death knell for the sugar industry and all those people whose livelihoods depend on it.

The association has requested a meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to discuss the sugar crisis in general, and the sugar tax in particular. According to the association, all role-players in government and civil society need to understand the gravity of the situation and to act before it is too late.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE