In an open letter on Tuesday, liquor traders have asked to partner with government to find solutions to the negative impact of “irresponsible alcohol consumption” following the second suspension of alcohol sales.
The National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC), Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA), Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) further asked for the suspension to be lifted to save livelihoods of about one million South Africans who depend on the industry for their income.
“We acknowledge that the irresponsible or excessive consumption of alcohol can have a negative impact on people’s lives. Our pledge to you and your leadership is that leaders in our industry want to work with leaders in Government to find solutions to minimise the harmful effects of over-consumption.
“We respect that our government is dealing with an unprecedented viral pandemic that risks the lives of many South Africans. However, by suspending the sale of alcohol, you are choosing to destroy hundreds of thousands of South African livelihoods at a moment in time that we should be doing everything possible to protect every potential household income,” reads the letter.
Liquor traders further bemoaned the reported R4.2 billion in excise duty and VAT that government loses for every month that alcohol sales are suspended.
“The legal alcohol industry that complies with regulation and contributes the above mentioned excise duty to Government is being replaced by a criminal, illicit alcohol trade that doesn’t contribute to the fiscus and increases criminality.”
The traders further pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa to clarify on how long the alcohol suspension would remain in place and the conditions under which the lifting of the alcohol suspension will occur, and to “initiate an alcohol industry and government program that will define how we work together to help solve the negative impact that irresponsible alcohol consumption can have.”