File picture: Tim Wimborne

Johannesburg - The South African Liquor Traders Association (Salta) said yesterday that the government’s new liquor amendment and tobacco laws would damage small and informal businesses.

Salta said it submitted a proposal to oppose the regulations to the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

Salta’s president, Mish Hlophe, said the amendments would push the country into a crisis. “While every South African is feeling pressure of a challenging political and economic climate, none are feeling the pressure more than the 1 million small business owners that are trying to make an honest living in our townships.”

The dti announced the Liquor Amendment Bill in September, which said, among other things, manufacturers and suppliers would be held liable for offences committed in unlicensed pubs and shebeens. The department said the bill would be open for public opinion until next month.

Hlophe said the government should create an environment that supported business growth if it wanted to create 1.3 million jobs and develop 450 thousand small businesses in the next three years.

“We assume that these laws were made in Europe... We will like to call all people, including local governments to raise their voice against these laws. We cannot support laws that will harm our people’s ability to support their families,” Hlophe said.

The government said in May that it would introduce plain packaging on tobacco products to reduce demand. Linda Madida, the president of the Gauteng Liquor Forum, said the amendments would have a negative impact on informal businesses.

Madida said removing branding from packs would help crime syndicates to sell their fake tobacco. “This will lead to more corruption, more criminals and cheap cigarettes being sold to young children.”

Fanny Mokoena, the president of National Tourism Hospitality Association, said: “Extreme laws are a short cut that should be avoided.”