PRESS STATEMENT BY THE BEER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA
11 July 2021
Continued alcohol ban: Beer industry to submit urgent PAIA application to the NCCC
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) will be submitting an urgent Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the National Covid Command Council (NCCC) to obtain the data and evidence on which it based its decision to extend the 4th alcohol ban for another two weeks – as announced by President Ramaphosa tonight.
The latest alcohol ban, which has been in place since the 28th of June, has already served a devastating blow to the alcohol industry, putting an estimated 4603 jobs at risk as well as potential loss of R5.1 billion in taxes and excise duties.
In all our discussions with government, it has been acknowledged that the main driver of infections is large gatherings and the failure to observe mask wearing and social distancing protocols. We have also not been provided with the data showing the link between alcohol and increased hospital admissions, despite requesting this from government on numerous occasions. We have therefore decided to submit our PAIA application in order to understand the rationale for the extension of the current ban when it is clear that thousands more jobs will be shed and billions more will be lost to the national fiscus.
Today’s newspapers have also reported that Cabinet decided two weeks ago that the current adjusted level 4 restrictions would be in place for 21 days but in order to manage concerns from the business community, President Ramaphosa decided to announce that these would be in place for two weeks and would then be reviewed.
If this is true, then BASA also questions its engagements with the National Joint and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) this week via the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on the current lockdown regulations. The beer industry, along with the broader alcohol sector, made a number of proposals to NatJoints including allowing all licenced establishments to be able to sell alcohol for off-consumption under adjusted alert level 4. This would allow these businesses to earn an income, would stop citizens from buying from the flourishing illicit market while also ensuring they consume alcohol in the safety of their homes.
If NatJoints already knew that the ban would be extended then its discussions with the alcohol industry this week were conducted in bad faith and serious questions need to be raised regarding the usefulness of these engagements going forward.
BASA notes the announcement by President Ramaphosa that Covid-19 TERS funding will be extended to industries affected by the adjusted alert level 4 lockdown. We eagerly await the details of this assistance as businesses within the beer industry have received zero financial assistance since the start of the lockdown in March last year.
The beer industry continues to support a curfew; a ban on large gatherings and requiring businesses and citizens to observe strict Covid-19 protocols. We also welcome the recent announcement by government that vaccine registrations will be opened for 35 to 49 year olds from 15 July. The only way to overcome the pandemic and prevent Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths is the roll-out a mass vaccination programme.
However, the over 400 000 livelihoods dependent on the alcohol industry will simply not survive if the current alcohol ban continues any longer. We simply must ensure that we save both lives and livelihoods during the third wave.
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