Glass manufacturer Consol has written to Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel, requesting that he urgently assist in pursuing a resolution of the alcohol ban.
There has been much debate about the impact of the alcohol ban and which way government should go about the decision in recent weeks since government reinstated the ban on July 12.
Consol believes a solution can be found between industry and government to look after South Africans and the economy.
Consol was part of an alcohol industry meeting on July 23 with the National Economic Development and Labour Council Covid Rapid Response Task Team, following which the alcohol industry decided it best to put forward a proposal that would allow government to lift the alcohol ban.
The glass manufacturer says government, particularly the Department of Health, would assist in collaborating with industry in the proposal.
Consol is advocating strongly for the ban to be lifted, since the glass packaging industry relies on the alcohol industry for 85% of its sales.
Consol says few supply chains and industries exist in isolation and that businesses upstream and downstream are dependent on one another.
“Any policy regarding one will impact on the others. The industries that supply the glass packaging industry, along with their respective value chains are at risk, as are the communities sustained by these industries.”
The glass packaging industry in South Africa has an invested capital base of R20-billion. Specifically, Consol’s facilities include 14 furnaces and 41 glass production lines across the country.
The glass packaging industry contributes almost R12-billion a year to South Africa’s gross domestic product and supports more than 26 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Consol says the closure of the glass manufacturing industry and permanent failure of suppliers in the value chain would de-industrialise the South African economy by R20-billion and the country would have to become a net importer of glass packaging and other related products.
The Level 5 lockdown had already cost the glass packaging industry R1.3-billion in lost sales and production, not taking into account the devastating impact on the vast network of suppliers and service providers within Consol’s supply chain.
“Without any certainty of resumption of alcohol sales, August and September will see no manufacturing activity, despite exports of alcohol continuing. In August, sales will drop by more than 70% and by up to 90% in September.”
Consol notes that while it understands that the second alcohol ban is aimed at limiting trauma cases and lessening the load on medical facilities, it is still asking for certainty on the timing of the lifting of the ban and finding another solution to reducing the impact of irresponsible alcohol abuse on South Africa’s healthcare system.
The glass manufacturer says there is currently no timeline from government on when alcohol sales will be allowed to resume and that a commitment from government on a date to return to trade is imperative.
Consol recommends in its letter to Patel that other measures be adopted to ensure more responsible use of alcohol in the country, and therefore also limit the amount of trauma cases admitted to hospitals.
These include enhanced education on prevention measures and responsible drinking, limiting the availability of alcohol, drink-driving counter measures, stricter policing of public and illegal drinking, stopping sales to unlicensed outlets and stopping the illicit alcohol industry, which is currently thriving under the alcohol ban.