Monday, September 27, 2021

Another Booze ban in the offing

Before the liquor consumers could even start bending their elbows, indications are that the sale of their favorite beverage will only be allowed for less than 30 days. A special government Gazette published Monday afternoon has given a hint that liquor taps could once again run dry, depending on directive that will be issued by the Director of Health Services at the time. 

According to the Gazette, signed by Pamela Smith-Lawrence – acting Director of Health Services, the resumption in sale of liquor will only be allowed between September 07 and September 30. 

“NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that, in accordance with regulation 30G of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, the suspension on the sale of liquor has been lifted from 7th of September, 2021 to 30th September, 2021”, reads part of the special government Gazette. 

September 30 is a Botswana national day and a largely celebrated public holiday. In the recent past, government in its attempt to control the spread of Covid 19, particularly new variants has been banning sale of alcohol around public holidays. Those inside government say September 30 will not be an exception. 

The lifting of the alcohol sale ban was first announced by President Mokgweetsi last week Friday during a national address broadcast on the national television – Btv. 

“The ban on the sale of alcohol will be lifted and allowed on a take away basis as per level 3 of the Emergency Response Framework”, Masisi said. 

The reopening follows the government’s decision to stun elbow benders in June, instructing that alcohol should not be sold for an indefinite period.  

Since 2020 the industry has not just lot money, but also lost employees along the dry journey as three leading liquor manufacturers KBL, Okavango Craft Brewery and Big Sip Company cumulatively had their employment headcount going down by atleast 190. 

Before the restriction the investment level of the country’s three liquor manufacturing companies stood at a cumulative figure of about P3.6 billion. 

As at March 2020, Botswana had a record 4 893 licensed liquor outlets with an estimated employment level of 15 910. Further, the country also had 1191 Restaurants that employed 23 820 people. 

Meanwhile Liquor operators in the country have appealed to the government to consider tax waives as the alcohol industry continues to battle with losses suffered from the ongoing liquor sale ban. 

Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) Secretary General, Jacob Sesinyi told Sunday Standard that engagements will be held with government after recently proposing for a meeting.

He said although they will welcome all incentives from government to help boost the industry, waiving taxes for liquor operators should be highly considered.

“We have proposed a meeting with government to have a discussion about a series of issues and we are hopeful that they will respond to us so that we can put these issues across,”

“ I can confidently tell you that every single time we bounce back from alcohol ban, some of our colleagues find it hard to bounce back, so in this case, it will be appropriate to have government looking into this issues,” said Sesinyi.

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