FITA has noted with concern the various recent media exposés relating to allegations of multinationals and their organization, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa, and their attempts to unduly influence public perception and government policy in relation to the tobacco industry.
These follow in the wake of a number of public relations campaigns launched by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa and its members recently, wherein which they sought to rely on a supposed study conducted by Ipsos and trying to vilify inter alia members of FITA whilst exaggerating the extent of the illicit trade. Not a word was said about massive sums of money draining from the fiscus to offshore havens that are attributable to Base Erosion and aggressive Profit Shifting practices.
FITA on 20 August 2018 wrote to Acting SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon raising its concerns that a SARS tweet from the SARS official page (“@sarstax”) on social media platform Twitter which accompanied the release of the joint SARS-FITA-TISA press statement of 15 August 2018 also copied in one Yusuf Abramjee (“Abramjee”) with Twitter handle “@Abramjee”, and also copied in the Food and Allied Workers Union (“FAWU”) with Twitter handle “@fawu_media”, which individual and entity had aligned themselves with the TISA funded #Takebackthetax campaign. Abramjee has since admitted to having received remuneration for his involvement in the campaign. This act by SARS does nothing to dispel the sentiment amongst many in the industry, and some in the media and academia that SARS is captured by the foreign owned players in the tobacco industry.
Remarkably, after making so much noise about the one-sided Ipsos report, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa also seems to have refused to release the actual report. One has to question what they are hiding.
These types of tactics are totally unacceptable in the current economic climate in South Africa that demands fair trade and ethical practices.
Issued by the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association: 10 September 2018
For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 011 044 5355; e: Monique@fita.co.za