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Johannesburg – The South African liquor industry has requested the suspension of its monthly obligation to pay excise taxes of R2 2.5 billion to the South African Revenue Services (Sars) as the sale of alcohol below level 3 remains banned.
On Tuesday, the liquor industry said it had no choice but to file the motion and argue that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who oversees the implementation of the National Civil Protection Act, failed to indicate, when the ban would be lifted.
On Tuesday, Dlamini Zuma issued an update to the amended level 3 lockdown rules, stressing that the sale of the alcohol ban should remain intact, as overconsumption of alcohol creates “stress and strain” on the health of the country’s facilities – in particular his trauma units.
Due to the renewed ban, which was reintroduced on December 28th, the spirits industry stated that this would affect the jobs and livelihoods of those directly and indirectly involved in the sector.
The alcohol industry pays the SA Revenue Service an average of R2 2.5 billion per month in excise duty contributions for locally produced and imported products.
The industry was granted a minimum of R5 billion in excise tax deferrals for July and August 2020 when the government banned alcohol sales with immediate effect.
The industry players explained the effects of the ban. Aside from damaging the treasury, such restrictions would also have far-reaching negative effects on the already precarious socio-economic situation of the country and the viability of the industry. There is no such thing as a temporary employer. Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) for all SMEs in this sector, including taverns, restaurants and bars.
Almost similar concern was expressed by DA spokesman for employment and labor, Michael Cardo, on Tuesday, who said the government had extended the lockdown regime but did not extend the payment of UIF-Ters payments to millions of workers affected by the pandemic.
However, on Tuesday, Dlamini Zuma insisted that a regulation review would be considered once the pandemic was under control.
The government also announced the suspension of civil marriage at all major interior ministries, including applying for new IDs and passports through February 15, as the country battles the escalating Covid-19 pandemic.
Home Secretary Aaron Motsoaledi announced Tuesday during a virtual briefing after Ramaphosa decided to extend the adjusted level 3 lockdown to February due to the increase in infections and deaths from the pandemic.
Motsoaledi informed the media together with Dlamini Zuma. Motsoaledi stressed that the association of civil marriages and the issuance of ID cards will be stopped until the number of infections caused by the virus decreases significantly. However, he said there would be a special issue of ID cards only for enrollments and passports for people in cargo, commercial and emergency personnel who are allowed to travel to neighboring countries according to the adjusted blocking level 3.
Motsoaledi responded to the restrictions and agreed with President Ramaphosa’s testimony when he said on Monday that cabinet decided that the 20 land entry ports currently open will remain closed to general entry and exit until February 15.
These include the six busiest border posts, Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek, Ficksburg and Kopfontein.
He also said the only other people allowed to visit the Internal Affairs Bureau are those who are supposed to collect their IDs, but should only do so after receiving a formal notification via text message.
“We also appeal to funeral directors and those who register births to do so in their respective health care facilities. Most hospitals in the country have internal affairs officers. We encourage funeral directors to make death registrations in the hospitals, ”Motsoaledi said.
However, he said that the working hours of Home Affairs will be extended to 7 p.m. to allow people to do birth and death registrations.