British American Tobacco will not be taking government to court
JOHANNESBURG - British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) has made an about-turn on the issue of taking the government to court after receiving a formal response to its letter from relevant ministers in the National Command Council.
“Having considered the response from the government and noting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public statement of Monday, May 4, as a business, we have taken the decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but, instead, to pursue further discussions with the government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid-19 lockdown”.
“We are convinced that by working together we can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and removes the threat of criminal sanction from 11 million tobacco consumers in the country,” the company said.
BATSA threatened to go to court if the government did not concede to its demand to lift the ban on cigarette products by Monday. Through its legal representative Webber Wenztel, BATSA said in a letter to government that its u-turn on lifting the ban was unreasonable
BATSA said today that the significant rise in the illicit trade of tobacco during the lockdown continued to be of great concern and threatens the livelihood of many who depend on legitimate businesses to sustain themselves.
It said the statement yesterday from Commissioner Edward Kieswetter that South African Revenue Service had “clear evidence” the illicit economy was “thriving” and that there could be a shortfall of R285 billion in tax revenues this year laid bare the challenge facing the government, businesses and all South Africans.
“We urge the government to consider an approach that will address their concerns while also ensuring legitimate businesses can contribute to this country’s economy and future growth. The illicit traders are the only beneficiaries of the ban on tobacco sales,” BATSA said.