CAPE TOWN – As Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is set to table his budget this week, the recently-launched Black Tobacco Farmers Association (BTFA) calls for government to keep excise taxes at their current level.
The call to action is inspired by the current incapacity by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to effectively tackle the illicit trade of cigarettes in order to protect farmers from a threat of job losses.
Illicit trade, as well as an impending threat to increase excise taxes yet again, poses a risk to the entire tobacco value chain, especially emerging farmer programmes that have developed small scale tobacco farmers and improved their livelihoods.
BTFA chairperson Ntando Sibisi said: “We just want to add our voice and request the Minister ahead of him tabling his budget that we would like to see a SARS that will take tackling the illicit trade of cigarettes more seriously before excise taxes are increased further.
“At this stage, more excise duties will do nothing but cause the illicit economy to grow even more. Under the current economic conditions, an excise increase will force more consumers to go for cheaper non-tax paying cigarettes.