Press release FITA 17 February 2020

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

As an organisation we have for long advocated the necessity of transforming the local tobacco industry and have lobbied government in this regard. By way of example, our members were previously precluded, via a number of underhanded practices by some of the multinationals, from buying tobacco from our local farmers.

The winding up of the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (“TISA”) gives our members and other tobacco industry role players slight hope that the tide is slowly turning and that the status quo may be shifting.

Transformation of the local tobacco industry will allow the fiscus to benefit from an inclusive market, which inclusive market will result in a reduction in the illicit trade of cigarettes as it will push those currently engaging in this activity to move towards compliance in an inclusive environment with no high barriers to entry, which trading environment does not favour capital, and supports local tobacco role players.

Transformation of the local industry, where the local tobacco manufacturers and farmers are given a larger share of the currently unevenly skewered market, and where presently foreign owned multinationals control more than 80% of the market will benefit our fiscus, and by extension our economy, as more funds will be available to the role players along the value chain, which will lead to job creation and a host of other benefits.

We believe the time has come for all stakeholders to meaningfully deal with all the challenges facing the tobacco industry in South Africa and to ensure that the playing field is levelled for all. The old refrain of “smuggling” and “illicit manufacturing” being the primary cause of losses to the fiscus is now running thin. The fact of the matter is that billions are pilfered out of our economy annually by a handful of entities through aggressive profit-base erosion schemes. We also believe it incumbent on government to put measures in place that will level the economic landscape, including giving local employers and contributors to the economy, equal hearing and platforms.  We believe that the days of “big business” having some sway over state policy should now be history.

Our members would for instance like to see a situation where they are able to freely purchase tobacco from local farmers, contrary to the current situation where local farmers are pushed into a corner and told not to supply our members and other independent tobacco manufacturers with tobacco.

Since 2014 both TISA and FITA via the South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) Tobacco Industry Forum (“TIF”) have been able to engage SARS at close range about issues affecting industry, but there are many other local tobacco industry role players who have not been afforded this opportunity.

There exists a need for tobacco industry role-players, and for SARS as a stakeholder, to come together and support the push for one transformed, unified and democratic industry body representing the interests of all role players along the tobacco industry value chain in South Africa. It is a perfect opportunity now, much more ideal than when there were two such bodies competing in the same space. FITA is currently the only recognised tobacco industry body in South Africa.

We therefore, as FITA, invite ALL industry role players to contact us, including those who are/were not members of FITA and TISA, with the view to scheduling a round table discussion with the end-goal of those role players joining our organisation and being part of one transformed, unified and democratic industry body representing the interests of all players along the value chain in South Africa.

The time for acrimony, distractions, dirty tricks and bickering must come to an end. The recent winding up of TISA presents this perfect opportunity. Those interested in advancing economic goals, fairness and transparency, and the combatting of non-compliance with tax and customs laws, should contact our Monique Vogel on the contact details herein below, with the view to all role players coming together in search of one common goal.

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

17 February 2020

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

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