Tobacco sales ban application pushed back by almost 6 weeks
DURBAN - British American Tobacco's (BAT) share price gained more than 2 percent on the JSE today despite its urgent application to lift the tobacco sales ban in South Africa was pushed back by almost six weeks.
British American Tobacco SA (BATSA), together with other role players in the industry including the Japan Tobacco International (JTI), tobacco farmers and retailers, launched an urgent application on May 29 to challenge the government’s decision to extend the ban on tobacco sales during Level 3 of the Covid-19 risk adjusted strategy.
However, BATSA said it received communication that the application being brought by it and others against the ban has been listed for August 5 and 6 despite a commitment from it and the government lawyers agreed that the matter should be heard next Tuesday.
BATSA’s head of external affairs Johnny Moloto said instead the group received an email on Friday stating that the case has been delayed by almost six weeks into the next legal term.
“In this almost six week delay alone the fiscus will lose more than R1.4bn in excise tax alone as the massive cigarette trade tightens its grip on the country. Thousands of jobs stand to be lost in the economy as criminality becomes the new normal. We are considering all our legal options and will be liaising directly with the government, as we had both previously agreed that the matter was urgent and needed to be heard next Tuesday,” Moloto said.
The group’s share price surged to R673.98 a share in the morning, up from Thursday’s closing price of R658.15.
The tobacco giant said the treasury is currently losing R35 million of revenue in excise taxes every day that the ban on cigarette sales in South Africa continues, translating to R4.70bn lost between March 26 to the expected August 6 for the hearing.