Johannesburg - The South African Liquor Industry has asked for the suspension of its monthly obligation to pay R2.5 billion in excise duties to the South African Revenue Services (Sars) due to the continued ban on the sale of alcohol under level 3 lockdown.
On Tuesday, the liquor industry said they had no choice but to make the application arguing that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - who is overseeing the implementation of the National Disaster Management Act - did not indicate when the ban would be lifted.
On Tuesday, Dlamini Zuma gave an update into the adjusted level 3 lockdown regulations in which she emphasised that the sale on the ban of alcohol was to remain intact saying the excessive consumption of it was leading to the “strain and stress” at the country’s health facilities - especially its trauma units.
Due to the renewed ban which was reintroduced on December 28 - the liquor industry said that was impacting on jobs and livelihoods of those directly and indirectly involved in the sector.
The alcohol industry pays the SA Revenue Service an average of R2.5bn per month in excise tax contributions for locally produced and imported products.
The industry was granted deferment of at least R5bn in excise tax payments for July and August 2020 when the government banned alcohol sales with immediate effect.
Detailing the effects of the ban, the industry players said apart from the damage to the fiscus, such restrictions also have a far-reaching negative impact on the country's already precarious socio-economic predicament and the industry's viability, saying there was no Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) for any of the SMMEs in the sector including taverns, restaurants and bars.
An almost similar concern was raised by the DA’s spokesperson on employment and labour Michael Cardo on Tuesday who said that the government extended the lockdown regulations but failed to extend the payment of UIF Ters payments to millions of workers affected by the pandemic.
On Tuesday, however, Dlamini Zuma was adamant that review on the regulations would be considered if the pandemic was under control.
The government also announced the suspension of civil marriages at all the major Home Affairs offices including the application for new IDs and passports until February 15 while the country is battling the surging Covid-19 pandemic.
This was revealed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Tuesday during a virtual briefing following Ramaphosa’s decision to extend the adjusted level 3 lockdown until February due to the surge of infections and deaths due to the pandemic.
Motsoaledi was briefing the media along with Dlamini Zuma. Motsoaledi emphasised that the union of civil marriages and the issuing of IDs will be halted until the number of infections due to the virus drops significantly. He, however, said special dispensation for IDs would only be made for matriculants and passports for people in the cargo, commercial and emergency medical personnel who are allowed to travel to neighbouring countries in accordance to the adjusted level 3 lockdown.
Detailing the restrictions, Motsoaledi concurred with President Ramaphosa’s statement when he said on Monday that the Cabinet had decided that the 20 land ports of entry that are currently open will be closed until February 15 for general entry and departure.
These include the six busiest border posts, which are Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein.
He also said the only other people who will be allowed to visit Home Affairs offices are those who are due to collect their IDs, but should only do so after having received a formal notification through an SMS.
“We also appeal to funeral parlours and those registering births to do so at their respective health facilities. There are Home Affairs officials at most of the hospitals in the country. We are encouraging funeral parlours to do death registrations at the hospitals,” Motsoaledi said.
He, however, said Home Affairs’ working hours will be extended until 7pm to allow people to do birth and death registrations.