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[Illegal businesses are thriving thanks to lock downs. Jan]
Durban – THE damage that South Africa’s black market has had on the economy comes into the spotlight on Wednesday.
Following numerous reports and complaints from the country’s sin tax industry, in particular, Business Leadership South Africa will today explore ways to “mitigate the threat of illicit trade” in a public webinar.
“Covid-19 prevention measures imposed by governments worldwide have unavoidably left most states distressed when it comes to economic activity and stability,” said Fouche Burgers, Business Against Crime South Africa’s (BACSA) National Project Manager.
In SA, however, the bans on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products also gave the illicit trade an opportune environment in which to thrive, much to the detriment of livelihoods, lawfulness and tax revenue collection.
“It is now more prudent than ever that solutions, actions and collaborative opportunities to curb illicit trade are tabled to mitigate this rampant form of crime. The BLSA Webinar on Illicit trade seeks to achieve exactly this outcome to contribute towards fast-tracking South Africa’s economic recovery,” he said.
Among subject matter experts expected to speak at the webinar is long time anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee who is calling on the government to act on criminals involved in the illicit trade.
“The black market covering everything from cigarettes to alcohol to textiles is becoming a real nightmare, and Lockdown highlighted how criminals are making money. Sars puts the cost of SA’s illicit economy at R100 billion a year. That’s over R250 million a day.
“The illicit cigarette trade robs us of R8 billion a year in lost excise taxes alone, and the illicit alcohol trade over R6 billion. Billions more are lost to the illegal fuel, pharmaceutical and textile industries and the kingpins in these businesses are also stealing income taxes, sales taxes and corporation taxes that are needed to transform and rebuild South Africa. We need measures in place to deal with illicit trade and the criminals to be brought to book,” he said speaking ahead of the webinar.
But while the alcohol industry has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s partial lifting of the alcohol ban, it still insisted that the pandemic has “decimated” the industry and that long term solutions were needed.
CEO of the South African Liquor Brand Owners’ Association Kurt Moore, who will also be participating in the webinar, said: “The alcohol ban has once again resulted in a rise in illicit trade and a R13-billion loss in tax revenue that could have covered the investment needed in the procurement of vaccines and other measures needed to curb the impact of Covid-19.
“The lifting of the ban is no quick fix to our long term economic survival, and we call on the government to work together on a workable solution that protects lives, while protecting the livelihoods of around 1 million people who rely on some form of income from this sector.”
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