SA Liquor Brandowners Association to seek answers regarding possible alcohol ban during Easter weekend
The SA Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) has voiced its concern regarding media reports that revealed that the government might ban alcohol during the Easter weekend.
On Sunday, the group said it wanted to formally seek reasons for the possible ban. The group joined other industry organisations which argued that the alcohol industry had yet to recover from the almost 19 weeks of non-trading since Covid-19 lockdown began.
While there has been no announcement about updated lockdown restrictions, weekend newspapers speculated that the government was considering limiting or banning alcohol sales during the Easter weekend.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said: “The only outcomes the country can expect from the decisions to increase gathering and ban alcohol sales is the hastening of the onset of the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic while further collapsing the struggling economy.”
Mngadi urged the Ministerial Advisory Council to distance itself from the unscientific decisions.
“The industry proposal to government through Nedlac was to reduce the size of gatherings to minimise the rate of infection. The second proposal from Nedlac was to keep most business sectors open to supporting economic recovery,” he said.
He said that if the reports were true, the banning of alcohol sales would impact the sector’s R173 billion contribution to the GDP of the country.
“This will be going against Nedlac’s proposal,” he said.
Mngadi said an assessment of the three alcohol bans’ economic impact last year, including the five-week ban between December 29 to 2 February 2 this year, revealed the damaging financial implications of the government's prohibition decree.
“According to the assessment, the tax revenue loss (excluding excise) to government fiscus from the value chain arising from the bans amounted to R29.3 billion (equivalent to 2.3% of tax revenue), and direct excise tax revenue lost across the nation was R8.7 billion (equal to 21.2% of excise revenue),” he said.
In February, a report found that the alcohol industry estimated to have lost R36.3bn in retail sales revenues during the liquor bans last year, when the lockdown began and when the latest one ended in February.
“Job losses as a result of these unjustified bans are exceptionally damaging to society and the economy. More than 200 200 jobs, equivalent to 1.22% of national jobs in the informal and formal sectors, are under threat due to the bans," said Mngadi.
Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen asked President Cyril Ramaphosa not to impose a hard lockdown and a ban on the sale of alcohol before the Easter weekend.
Steenhuisen said the restaurant industry was among the hardest hit when Ramaphosa announced the imposition of Level 5 lockdown in March last year.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE