Johannesburg - South Africa could lose 60 000 jobs in the beverage industry due to a proposed tax on sugary drinks, the chairman of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, Phil Gutsche, said on Tuesday.
The National Treasury had proposed a 20 percent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks under a plan that delighted health campaigners and angered drink makers.
The sector employs about 200 000 people.
“If this tax proceeds, we stand to lose 60 000 jobs in our industry. More than 5 000 livelihoods will be affected in Nelson Mandela Bay alone,” said Gutsche.
“The poor will, therefore, literally become poorer and not thinner.”
Gutsche was supported by Mapule Ncanywa, the executive director of the Beverage Association of SA, who said 97 percent of the country’s obesity problems had nothing to do with sugar-sweetened beverages.
Ncanywa said voluntary reformulation, packaging, labelling and other targeted commitments already adopted in South Africa, would result in greater impact on tackling obesity than the anticipated reduction of 37 kilojoules a day.
Ncanywa said the industry was committed to the economy. She said if the industry continued to grow, its contribution to tax receipts would quickly outpace expected revenues from the sugar-sweetened beverages tax.