Liquor traders request meeting with President Ramaphosa over booze ban
Cape Town - The Presidency has confirmed that it has received a request from the liquor traders, to discuss the impact of the alcohol sale ban on the industry with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Liquor Trader Formations convener Lucky Ntimane called on Ramaphosa to allow for the resumption of alcohol sales with immediate effect, primarily off-consumption (takeaways), and support for taverns and shebeen permit holders by means of financial assistance to the value of R20 000 per outlet, and a moratorium on liquor licence fees payable for a period not less than a year.
Ntimane said the ban on alcohol sales continued to wreak havoc in the sector and looked set to condemn thousands of livelihoods into poverty while the future of taverns remained in doubt.
This after the government extended the ban on the sale of alcohol in order to alleviate pressure on the overburdened health system, which is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ntimane said the third and current alcohol ban seemed to be the surest way yet that a death knell had indeed been pronounced on the tavern sector.
“We do not see how we can recover or let alone come back from this ban. As liquor traders we have always supported government’s efforts in fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to do so through the industry-funded tavern compliance programme, which seeks to educate liquor traders on best practices for complying with Covid-19 regulations and by extension encourage consumers to observe and practise Covid-19 compliance protocols in their communities.”
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, confirmed to the Cape Argus that the Presidency had received the request from the liquor traders.
SA Liquor Brandowners Association chairperson Sibani Mngadi said there was no greater risk of Covid-19 infection associated with the sale of alcohol for home consumption, saying the off-consumption channel operated exactly like any grocery shop.
“Government has not provided a reason for closing the off-consumption and there is no justification for the ban to continue beyond the January 15 review of the current lockdown,” said Mngadi.
He said the current prohibition of all formal sales of alcohol had only led to a sharp increase in illicit trade leading to a mutual loss for industry on revenue and government on excise tax, VAT and company tax to the rising network of alcohol smugglers.
Grain SA said it acknowledged that everything needed to be done to keep the nation safe and reduce the pressure on the healthcare system.
“However, it must also be kept in consideration that an entire industry with a supported value chain is affected by the alcohol ban, further affecting the sustainability of the livelihoods of people employed and dependent on this industry.”