MITI launches alcohol levy inquiry

Assistant minister of MITI, Moiseraela Goya said Alcohol Levy has failed PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
Assistant minister of MITI, Moiseraela Goya said Alcohol Levy has failed PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES

PALAPYE: The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) has embarked on a nationwide probe aimed at reviewing the alcohol levy that was introduced in 2008 under former president, Ian Khama.

The inquiry started in Palapye where the assistant minister of MITI, Moiseraela Goya told a Serorome Kgotla gathering that the analysis has pointed out that the intent of the levy that he has supported at introduction has failed. 

He said Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) did the analysis on the levy. According to the analysis, he said, the levy has contributed immensely to loss of employment and a notable increase of alcohol consumption. 

He said that is a testament of the fact that the levy was no remedy for alcohol abuse. He advised that his ministry has a huge task of creating opportunities for employment and jobs could be created if the levy was revised before he put it to the gathering to assist in the probe of the levy. 

Goya told the Kgotla gathering that the Kgalagadi Breweries Limited alone cut over 300 jobs for locals, but said that was just the tip of the iceberg, as the levy affected all other alcohol trading outlets across the country that also had to retrench. 

“The levy did not serve its purpose. The purpose was to curb alcohol abuse, but reports point out that it has in fact increased at the expense of people losing employment,” he said, suggesting as the ministry (MITI) that the levy should be annulled and operating hours be increased. He said the levy is not ideal when people are in the anguish of unemployment. 

“We are not going to impose, but as we came to Batswana with the alcohol levy we have come back to inform you that what we intended has failed and we want you to help with the ideal resolution to this matter.” 

Goya said whatever the resolutions are taken at the end of the day, the ministry would continue to educate the nation on the dangers of alcohol abuse. 

He said this after Kgosi Samuel Maforaga of Serorome ward raised a concern on the abuse of alcohol and the disregard of alcohol trading hours in his welcome speech. 

Maforaga said alcohol drinking has risen since a new regime took over at the nation’s number one office although he could not provide supporting statistics. He said traders disregard trading hours and it seems the authorities have loosened the screws. He said the community no longer attends Kgotla meetings because they wake up just to drink alcohol. 

“I wonder if it is this new regime that allows people to sell alcohol from very early in the morning because it seems nothing is done with that as it has been the case before the change of Presidents,” he said. 

Members of the Serorome kgotla were against the ministry’s idea of relaxing trading hours and revising the alcohol levy. Kgomotso Moshabi said it is a pity that despite the social ills that are caused by alcohol the ministry is contemplating revising the alcohol levy. 

Tholo Santabane shared similar sentiments as Moshabi. “Abuse of alcohol has caused great harm to our society. People are killing each other while drinking and alcohol contributed to many deaths and other acts of immorality. Are we saying creating employment at the expense of the lives of our people would be wise?” he asked. 

Dikeledi Galeate said that instead operating hours be reduced and stringent laws on alcohol be enforced to curb alcohol abuse that she said is destroying families.

Editor's Comment
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When the pandemic reached Botswana’s shores last year March, a nation united in the quest to defeat an invisible enemy. It is a moment never witnessed in recent memory, with the catastrophes of the world war and the 1918 Spanish influenza being the only other comparisons in living memory. Botswana, like the rest of the world, had to readjust its priorities and channel most, if not all, of its energies towards fighting COVID-19. It has not been...

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