When President Mokgweetsi Masisi became the First citizen, he promised to review the liquor trading hours. He made assurances that the review would be done through consultations with all stakeholders.
One of the key industry players, the Botswana Alcohol Industry (BAIA) met with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their input. Led by their chairperson, Mothusi Molokomme, they called on the government to reduce the alcohol levy or scrap it altogether.
“The levy had brought more problems than solutions. It does not deter people from drinking alcohol. Instead they spend more money on alcohol or resort to cheaper options and drugs,” Molokomme said. The business community said the levy has also made people to smuggle in spirits from across the border. “This had totally killed business for us.
These people who do not even get taxed are making a killing while the licensed businesses suffer. We get double taxed so our prices cannot best theirs,” a concerned trader lamented. The alcohol industry also lamented lack of clear usage of the levy. “We had thought that we would see rehabilitation centres being built to fight alcohol abuse. It is not clear what the money is used for,” another player added.
The booze dealers lamented that the current liquor trading
National Aids Coordinating Agency’s principal information and communications officer, Oageng Moseki told the gathering that they were sent to dialogue with communities and businesspeople on the proposed reviewed liquor trading hours and the alcohol levy.
“We have been sent by government to get your views. These will be considered by the government to formulate a proper policy as the President has promised,” he said.
Molokomme said they were hopeful that after suffering for the past 10 years, they would now see change. “We have been talking to the ministry for the past nine years in vain. We believe that our proposal will be acceded to. We also will continue investing in programmes to curb alcohol abuse and give back to the community,” he said.