South African Alcohol Industry raises its voice over alcohol ban

Business News

29 December 2020

Staff Reporter/PretoriaLIVE

Pretoria – South African alcohol industry on Tuesday came out guns blazing and raised  voices over alcohol ban during  the adjusted level 3 restrictions. The Industry is deeply concerned for its long-term survival following Government actions to prohibit retail sales and onsite consumption. In that same vein the  Industry called for urgent and regular review of the ban after initial period as the health situation improves, read a statement issued by the South African Alcohol Industry. 

“In response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Monday evening, the South African alcohol industry supports his message calling for the need to save lives during this second wave, but notes with concern the announcement that distribution, retail and on-site consumption are banned during adjusted level 3”. 

The President’s statement detailed the Government’s priority to limit potential transmissions while keeping the economy open. However, the industry is gravely worried about the long-term economic impact on the industry following the President’s announcement Monday evening which will prohibit the sale of alcohol from retail outlets and on-site consumption until January 15, 2021.

“The industry had made representation to Government to consider other alternatives other than imposing a nationwide ban on all formal sales of alcohol, along with its distribution and transportation. This development will have a devastating impact that could potentially lead to job losses across the value-chain of the alcohol including retail sector”, read the statement.

The alcohol industry further said that, “Prohibition of distribution and transportation which was in place at Lockdown level 5 caused severe operational and logistical difficulty for the industry as products could not be moved from production site for safe keeping in warehouses. These operations have no bearing on the spread of infections nor any impact on the health system”.  

Part of the statement read that, “The industry welcomes the decision not to ban the export of alcohol. South Africa’s alcohol industry is one of our country’s most significant exports and it is crucial that this continues uninhibited to several regions of the world that have not banned alcohol sales”.

“It is therefore essential that prohibition of distribution and transportation be reversed urgently to support export trade. Furthermore, Lockdown level 5 and 4 demonstrated that restricting the legal trade of alcohol fuels the growth of the illicit market, a fact that is widely acknowledged internationally. The illicit market is outside the regulatory reach of Government and operates mostly uncontrolled, leading to devastating consequences from a health and economic perspective”. 

“The industry believes that limitations on alcohol sales can be imposed in a less damaging manner that alleviate the impact on the healthcare system, helps to mitigate transmission while still helping to preserve livelihoods. A third ban would cause irreparable damage to small and medium sized businesses that would be unlikely to survive”.

The alcohol industry went on to say that they are, “in agreement with the President that there is a need to reduce the risk of transmission of new cases while keeping the economy open. It is for this reason that we note Monday’s announcement to prohibit the sale of alcohol from retail premises and onsite consumption as well as banning its distribution and transportation with grave concern”. 

“We therefore strongly urge the Government to review the ban on distribution and transportation to allow each company to manage safe keeping of stock. South Africa’s alcohol industry is one of our country’s most significant exports and therefore should be allowed to continue its production and distribution uninhibited”, the alcohol Industry maintained.

The South African Alcohol Industry includes but not limited to, the National Liquor Traders Council ( NLTC), South African Brandowners Association (SALBA), the Beer Association of South Africa(BASA), Vinpro, the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa ( CGCSA), Retailers and Manufacturers.

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