The South African Cane Growers Association (SA Canegrowers) have called on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to decrease sugar tax to help save the local industry.
Mboweni is due to deliver the Budget Speech on Wednesday.
SA Canegrowers said reducing the health promotion levy will help the industry recover, adding that an additional R100 billion in revenue accrued to National Treasury means government has room to help the 65,000 direct jobs the local sugar industry reports.
Many of these jobs are on farms of some 21,581 small-scale growers, where economic opportunities are scarce, they said.
This is not the first time SA Canegrowers have called for a review of the sugar tax, which they said directly resulted in at least 9,000 job losses in the cane growing sector alone.
A Sugar Industry Masterplan was signed in November last year.
The plan involved SA Canegrowers, industry stakeholders and government, and agreed that the tax be reviewed, due to its socio-economic impact.
The assessment into the exact impact of the tax has been commissioned, but not yet finalised.
Other factors threatening the industry are cheap sugar imports and increased production costs.
SA Canegrowers expressed concern that sugar tax could make the very real threat of additional job losses a reality.
“It is crucial that Minister Mboweni alleviates the mounting pressures on the sugar industry in order to power its continued recovery.
“This would represent concrete action on the part of government to support President Ramaphosa’s call during his State of the Nation Address for all South Africans to buy local and support the local sugar industry,” the association said.
“With support from the Minister, we will continue to see the restoration of our local sugar industry and we will save the one million livelihoods that depend on it.”
Compiled by Nica Richards