South Africa’s Budget Speech
FILE: Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – There are calls for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to shelve the sugary beverages tax when he announces the country’s Budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday.

The tax on sugar-sweetened drinks was introduced in 2018 to reduce the consumption of sugary beverages, which has adverse effects on health such as obesity.

The SA Canegrowers Association says the tax has cost the sugar industry nearly R1 billion since its implementation.

The organisation says that the minister should rethink the tax pending an assessment of its impact on the economy and jobs.

SA Canegrowers’ Association chairperson Graeme Stainbank says: “The sugar tax has further decreased our local demand by another 200,000 a ton and this equates to over 6,000 jobs at risk.”

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa intends to retrench over 1,000 employees due to the impact that the tax has had on production.

Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) general secretary Katishi Masemola says they’re opposed to Coca Cola’s stance on trimming its workforce.

“The South African Bureau of Standards must begin to reformulate the sugary and sweetened products away from sugar as direct content and produce sugar-free soft drinks.”