The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Duke Lefhoko, on Friday received on behalf of his minister, Neo Moroka, a petition brought to him by concerned employees of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) and Botswana Breweries Limited (BBL) who had staged a march from their workplaces to the ministry.
The employees pleaded with the ministry to revisit and reconsider the government’s decision to impose the 30% alcohol levy, either by doing away with it completely or, at least, to drastically reducing it to “save the livelihoods of our families”.
Ofentse Mareme and Sergeant Kgosietsile claimed to be speaking on the implementation of the levy on alcoholic beverages has drastically affected their companies to the extent that some employees have started facing retrenchments.
Some of our people have already lost their jobs, and the other employees remain under threat of further retrenchments, and we fear that a possible closure of the company is imminent,” said Mareme.
There is deep and growing fear that more retrenchments are to come.
The levy imposed on alcohol was implemented on the 1st of November last year after KBL withdrew its court case against the proposed measure.
The government had initially proposed a 70% tax on all alcoholic beverages but managed to cut down to 30% after public outcry at the absurdity of the measure.
KBL and BBL had argued that the measure would end up causing loss of jobs in the industry, evidence to support that statement is already beginning to show.
There have also been talks of government reviewing the existing levy and how it has helped reduce alcohol consumption to the effect that if it is found that alcohol consumption hasn’t reduced the levy might be hiked up.
The employees are also faulting the government for undermining its Buy Botswana Products stance by continuing to implement the levy, which could be viewed as government’s intention to close KBL/BBL and not to eliminate alcohol abuse.
“We therefore request the government to unfold the backup plan for the employees of these two companies taking into consideration that some employees are qualified brewers and can only be employed as brewers,” said Mareme.
According to the concerned employees, the government must go back to the drawing board and try to find other alternatives of reducing the abuse of alcohol.