CAPE TOWN – The South African Canegrowers Association on Monday revealed that the sugar tax (or health promotion levy) has cost the sugar industry nearly R1 billion since its implementation on April 1, 2018.
The association called on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to use the opportunity of his maiden budget speech on Wednesday to shelve the sugar tax, pending a thorough assessment of its impact on the economy and jobs.
The association’s chairperson Graeme Stainbank said: “According to our data, the sugar tax has so far cost the industry R925 million in the 2018/19 season (which runs from 1 April to 31 March), with 64 percent (R592 million) incurred by sugar cane growers.
“This translates into potential job losses of 6 500 in the cane growing sector alone and does not include further job losses in the sugar milling and beverage industries.”
Stainbank said the sugar tax had dealt a huge blow to an industry struggling with the impact of drought, plunging sugar prices and weak protection against cheap imports. And it was particularly devastating to farmworkers, land reform farmers and small-scale growers.