FITA Press release 04 APRIL 2020

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

We agree with and fully support the recommendation by the Democratic Alliance to national government for the unbanning of all “non-essential” goods in retail stores that are currently trading.

We know that the President has announced that there will be clarity on this issue after a meeting of the President’s Co-ordinating Council today, 4 April 2020.

We hope that prior to making an announcement on this issue the President will carefully consider the numerous benefits of lifting the ban which have been advanced during the course of the week by inter alia eminent citizens, academics and researchers, and industry representative bodies, which benefits we feel far outweigh the negatives.

We acknowledge and accept that the regulations were put in place for a good reason, but as an industry representative body we feel the need to give input to government on this issue as we feel that the solutions as proposed by inter alia the Democratic Alliance would better suit this current situation.

It is also of great concern that there have been increases in incidents of break-ins and thefts from shops and storage facilities which stock these so-called “non-essential” goods, which we have no doubt will in turn feed underground markets and overload an already struggling and overloaded criminal justice system were the perpetrators to be apprehended by law enforcement agents.

Authorising at least the sale of “non-essential” goods at retail stores, spaza shops and filling stations would give the economy a much-needed boost and avoid a situation where our citizens, out of desperation, contravene the regulations of the lockdown en masse.

It has also been well documented in the media during the course of the lockdown period that the sale of these goods has not halted during ban. Those involved in the illicit trading of these goods have exploited the “gap in the market” and are supplying citizens who are now resorting to acts of criminality to obtain these goods at all costs.

Uplifting the ban would, amongst other things save jobs, bring more money into the state coffers, stimulate the economy, and decrease the psychological impact on South Africans of the lockdown period.

We are already dealing with huge deficits in as far as our tax collections are concerned with the announcement this week that SARS collected R 66.2 billion less than estimated.

We accordingly urge government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to reconsider the nationwide prohibition of the sale of cigarettes and other “non-essential” goods for reasons as set out herein in above. The government’s decisions in relation to the taxi industry have already shown that compromises are possible.

As a recognised industry body, we are available and willing to engage government on the above and provide invaluable input as industry stakeholders in order for the state to make a more informed decision on this issue.

 

Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association Chairperson: Sinenhlanhla Mnguni

4 April 2020

For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za

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