Botswana mulls 70pc hike in alcohol tax

President Ian Khama says he believes that a steep increase in the price of alcohol would stop people from drinking excessively and has pledged to increase the prices of alcoholic beverages, including that for the hugely popular Chibuku, by 70 percent.

He added that if abuse continues after three months, and with no change in the alcohol consumption, there would be a further increase of 70 percent or even 100 percent

Meanwhile, a task force has been appointed to establish ways to regulate shebeens and traditional brewers.

But analysts argue that the proposed increase in the price of alcohol has the potential to close down many businesses and also lead to loss of employment as no one in the liquor industry.

Reports say Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) has begun talks with government following last week’s statement by Khama.

“We are busy talking to the government to help them understand what the implications are," said KBL director of corporate affairs, Thapelo Letsholo.

He said that KBL and Botswana Breweries share the government’s concerns on the harmful effects of irresponsible consumption and abuse. However, he said, while increasing the price of liquor may limit its purchase by some people, it does not address the most pertinent matter of alcohol abuse and associated effects.

Letsholo said the government’s proposal assumes that by making alcoholic beverages more expensive per capita, consumption will be decreased and with it the associated problems. However, Letsholo feels that this development will not solve the problem, if anything, it will exacerbate it.

“As a result, we are opposed to the intervention.”

However, the co-ordinator of the government’s communication and information systems, Jeff Ramsay, said there was no official document outlining the planned increases.

August 2008
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