Monday, December 6, 2021

Masisi reviewing Khama’s hostile alcohol policies

President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration is in the process of reversing the harsh trading conditions imposed by former President Lt Gen Ian Khama against the liquor industry.

From his first day at the Office of the President, Khama declared war on the liquor industry. In his inauguration speech on April 1, 2008 mentioned alcohol in the same breath with the media as he outlined his plan to enforce discipline.

Speaking out against indiscipline, he cited “alcohol abuse, reckless driving on our roads, disrespect for elders, vandalising of school property, wastage of scarce resources such as water, the use of abusive language in public discourse, defamation, slander and false statements in the media. The examples I have cited reflect a lack of discipline by some sections of our community,” he said.

Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Moiseraela Goya however disclosed this week that the new administration is in the processes of reviewing some of the anti liquor policies introduced by the previous regime. The assistant minister further revealed that Kgalagadi Breweries had exported hundreds of jobs out of Botswana in its bid to sidestep the country’s unfavorable trading hours and high alcohol levy.

Goya told Parliament that KBL has reduced and relocated some support functions because of declining profits margins as a result of what is considered to be a highly regulated market, which include the introduction of the Alcohol Levy and unfavorable trading hours.

Goya was answering a question from Lobatse MP, Sadique Kebonang who wanted to know whether KBL had reduced its operations and relocated some outside Botswana.

The alcohol trading hours have been a contentious issue with revelers, the entertainment industry and liquor outlet owners complaining that the short operating hours adversely affected their business.

Although no extensive research has been conducted to determine the number of jobs lost by liquor outlets and the entertainment industry as a result of hostile liquor trading conditions the Sunday Standard can reveal that KBL alone has had to shed 350 jobs as part of an attendant restructuring process.

As part of the process to streamline its operations in the face of difficult trading conditions KBL decided to invest in more strategic roles as opposed to support functions. It also closed opaque and clear beer depots across the country Goya told parliament resulting in job losses.

Goya said government was in talks with the industry to return the functions that have been lost, and also to create an enabling environment for the industry to thrive and employ

Responding to a question from Gaborone North MP Haskins Nkaigwa who had asked if there were any any plans by government to reduce the alcohol levy that has adversely affected the industry, Goya said,  “I do not want to say that there is any influence coming from Government regarding the issue of Alcohol Levy. If there is anything that will come, the nation will be informed,” said Goya.

Goya told parliament that his ministry was working on the issue of trading hours, but cannot divulge more information until the necessary process has been concluded.

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