The South African Sugar Association (Sasa) has called for the government to not hike the sugar tax, or Health Promotion Levy (HPL) for at least three years.
Sasa executive Trix Trikam said in a statement yesterday that industry participants presented the case for the sugar industry to MPs and ministers during the Taking Parliament to the People programme in KwaZulu-Natal this week.
“Our main request is that there should be no sugar tax (HPL) increases for at least three years and there should be no lowering of the current threshold while we pursue diversification opportunities – through the master plan process – to ensure the sustainability of the industry,” he said.
After implementation of the Health Promotion Levy in 2018, the industry has shed more than R8 billion in revenue, Sasa said, while it had lost close to 10 000 jobs, according to an independent study commissioned by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).
“It also had to close two mills due to the HPL exacerbating the already dire financial state of the sector,” Trikam said.
“We are very pleased that Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Fikile Majola recognised the serious issues facing our industry, especially his agreeing with views expressed by farmers and workers that the HPL has had a deleterious impact on the industry since its introduction in April 2018. We are further encouraged by his undertaking that he would engage with National Treasury and Department of Health on the matter.”
At his Budget Speech in February, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced an increase in the tax, but this was subsequently postponed to April next year to allow for further consultation on lowering the 4g threshold and extending the levy to fruit juices.