Next Chapter waitor Mhlengi Ngcobo in Florida road, Durban pours a glass of beer for a customer on Tuesday after the alcohol sale was permitted by government Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African news agency(ANA)
Next Chapter waitor Mhlengi Ngcobo in Florida road, Durban pours a glass of beer for a customer on Tuesday after the alcohol sale was permitted by government Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African news agency(ANA)

Liquor industry pleased with the ban lifting

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Feb 3, 2021

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DURBAN - THE liquor industry believes that the lifting of the alcohol sale ban under strict restrictions would have a negative impact on many of the businesses who are already collapsing due to the ban.

President Cyril  Ramaphosa announced on Monday evening that the sale of alcohol by licensed premises for off-site consumption from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm was now permitted.

Ramaphosa stated that the sale of alcohol by licensed premises for on-site consumption, such as restaurants and taverns, was also permitted throughout the week from 10am to 10pm.

He also announced the relaxation of restrictions to allow registered wineries, wine farms, microbreweries and distilleries to sell alcohol for off-site consumption during normal licensed hours.

Reacting to the announcement, the industry said they have calculated that the tax contribution to the fiscus has declined by more than 28% from R47 billion in 2019/20 to R34bn in 2020/21.

Kurt Moore, chief executive of the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba), said that they welcomed Ramaphosa’s decision to ease the restrictions on alcohol sales.

However, he said, after the six-week alcohol ban that has left the industry on its knees, the latest announcement would no be a quick-fix solution for our long-term economic survival.

“We call on the government to work together with us to find a workable solution going forward that protects lives while preserving the livelihoods of around one million people who rely on some form of income from this sector,” he said.

Moore said that the reinstatement of the alcohol ban for the third time during the lockdown announced by on 28 December had decimated the industry and threatened its long-term survival.

He said this had led to job losses, a rise in illicit trade and a significant decline in its economic contributions.

Two weeks ago, South African Breweries (SAB) announced that it had suspended more than 500 temporary jobs due to the ripple effect of the alcohol ban in the country. SAB also halted a number of investments because of the ban.

Managing director of wine industry body Vinpro Rico Basson said that the announcement had long been necessary as the industry had suffered appallingly under the lockdown restrictions.

Basson said this marked the start of the long road to recovery for the sector, but had come too late for many small businesses that had not been able to weather the financial storm of Covid-19.

“With the harvest for this year’s wine under way, the impetus to create sales for our existing wine stock is all the more pertinent if we are to safeguard our future. We continue to implore our consumers to drink responsibly during the country’s ongoing lockdown,” he said.

The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) welcomed the lifting of the ban, saying that while these restrictions still limited the beer sector’s recovery, they were relieved to be able to begin trading again.

Basa said that while there was no guarantee that their craft brewers would recover, Ramaphosa had offered small businesses a glimmer of hope - although it may be too little too late for some.

“The situation faced by small business owners and craft brewers remains dire. The last two alcohol bans had a devastating impact on the beer industry, with an estimated 7 400 jobs lost, R14.2 billion in lost sales revenue and more than R7.8 billion loss in taxes and excise duties,” said Basa.

The association said that they had written to the presidency and to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, calling for urgent intervention to save jobs and small businesses within their sector.

The Mercury

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