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Alcohol levy hiked to 55 percent


The Alcohol Levy, this week, reached another milestone in its periodic rise, Government announced a 10 percent increase, taking it to 55 percent. This means the price of alcohol will be shooting through the ceiling with immediate effect.


The introduction of the alcohol levy and its constant rise has been attributed to President Lt Gen Ian Khama’s disdain for liquor abuse and its contribution to social ills. President Khama has never hidden his dislike for the alcoholic drinks, saying they serve no real purpose in people’s lives.


Initially, President Khama had announced a 70 percent levy but settled for 30 percent. President Ian Khama introduced the controversial alcohol tax in 2008 after becoming the Head of State in an attempt to curb excessive drinking.


LEVY NOW TRAGETS PRODUCTION COSTS
This time the levy will hit hard on all products, including imported liquor from Namibia and South Africa. Another new element brought about by the latest statutory instrument is that the levy targets production costs and not just the alcohol component. It will target 55 percent of production costs which includes such elements as labelling and canning, among others.


THE GENESIS
Khama first broached the issue of an alcohol levy in 2008, at a kgotla meeting in Gabane, catching unawares,  the then Minister of Trade and Industry Neo Moroka who expressed ignorance about the intention to introduce the levy, after the President’s announcement.  Little did he know that President Khama was serious and it was implemented without consultations with relevant authorities.

The levy came with a reduction of operating hours for liquor outlets and a clamp down on homebrews which were traditionally sold from homesteads; the requirement was that these opaque and brews would be sold from registered and licensed depots.


December is seemingly the customary increase month as the levy reached 45 percent from the initial 30 percent. In December 2013, it went up to 50 percent after a five percent increase. This week, Government imposed a further 10 percent on the levy, bringing it to 55 percent.


Furthermore, the percentage will now be billed on all production costs of alcoholic product instead of the selling price as before. Imported brands, which are hugely popular in the country will also for the first time, be subjected to the levy.


THE AFTERMATH OF THE LEVY

The result of the existence of the levy so far is that, some of the Companies in the alcohol industry have lost their value and employees have lost jobs, with Kgalagadi Breweries Limited closing down its Palapye plant in 2012. Former consumers of clear beer who could not afford the higher prices of their favourite drinks are reported to have resorted to cheaper, harmful alternatives. On the other hand, those who could afford the higher prices simply continued to buy their favourite alcoholic beverages.
 
On the other hand, the Alcohol levy has not seen a marked reduction in the use of alcohol in the country as originally envisaged. A study conducted by University of Botswana and associated institutions in 2011; found that 60 percent of respondents said they drink the same quantities regardless of the levy and its increases, while 27 percent said that they drink less because of the tax. The reduction of hours, relative to the price increases, has been noted as being better effective at curbing excess use of alcohol.

…AND A SWELLING FUND

However, the levy has become a huge cash cow for Government pet projects. “The Alcohol Levy, as one of interventions to combat harmful effects of alcohol has as of June 2014 collected a cumulative total of P1.441 billion. Government further developed a National Framework for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment which will guide the delivery of rehabilitation services,” said President Khama in his State of the Nation address at the beginning of the 11th Parliament in November this year.

While the expectation had been that the Levy Fund would be used for alcohol use and abuse interventions, the Fund has found use in funding the recent Botswana Africa Youth Games and other purposes.

In Botswana, it seems that the country’s alcohol consumption has reached very high proportions. In a study conducted by the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), 64.4 percent of males in the study reported that they voluntarily engage in drinking as opposed to the 35.5 percent of females who reported voluntary drinking episodes.


Of those who consume alcohol 54 percent are binge drinkers who consume. Of those who consume alcohol, 54 percent are binge drinkers who consume more than 5 drinks in one day Therefore it is very important to investigate the more than 5 drinks in one day.


Besides the consumer’s pockets, the biggest brewer in the country, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited has been the hardest hit by the existence of the Alcohol levy. The company, which is owned by SABMiller and the Botswana Stock Exchange listed Sechaba Brewery Holdings, has had to innovate constantly to beat the effects of the Levy on its bottom line.
 

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According to BBC , it has referred the club to an independent commission over alleged rule breaches between 2009 and 2018 , and also that Man-city has not been co-operating since the investigation which started in 2018 .

BBC further states that The commission can impose punishment including a fine , points deduction and expelling the club from the Premier league.

The alleged breaches include ,  breaching rules for requiring full details of manager remuneration,from 2009-2010, to 2012-2013 seasons when Roberto Mancini was in charge . Also player remuneration between 2010-2011 and 2015-2016.

The Premier league stated that City breached rules related to UEFA regulations , including Financial Fair Play , from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 ,as well as Premier League rules on profitability and sustainability from 2014-2016 to 2017-2018

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South Korean Embassy aids students living with disabilities

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South Korean Ambassador in South Africa has donated e-learning equipment through Botswana Red Cross Society (BRCS) to Tlamelong Rehabilitation Centre in Tlokweng recently, in a bid to fine tune the student’s textile skills.  

When talking at the handing over ceremony, Chull-Joo Park, said they agreed with BRCS to give out e-learning equipment to better the training skills of students living with disabilities.

“With the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) equipment and job training skills, we will be able to help the students living with disabilities to do e-learning and to better their education and job training,” said Chull-Joo Park.

It was revealed that the South Korean Embassy approached BRCS with the intent to donate equipment and educational material that includes an embroidery machine, photo copier machine, tablets and interactive boards to be utilized by the trainees.

The industrial printer is a machine that works with embroidery machine to print designs for clothing and it will enable the learners to have more material available to them to facilitate learning.

Through this embroidery machine, students will be exposed to better technologies which ultimately improve the quality of materials they produce. It will also allow students to learn business skills and run profitable ventures.

Smart board gadgets will provide the students with an elevated learning process to be fostered by e-learning. The gadgets provide a more visual element to the learning process, which in turn improves learner mental retention.

Tlamelong Rehabilitation serves the marginalized and underserved less privileged persons living with disability in Botswana. The center offers boarding services, vocational training, social services, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services for young people living disabilities aged 18-35 from across the country over a period of two (2) years per cohort which has a maximum intake capacity of 35. BRCS through International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have managed to create great working synergy with the South Korean Embassy in Pretoria based in South Africa to support or augment the National Society’s Rehabilitation Centre’s learning challenges.

For his part, BRSC Secretary General Kutlwano Mokokomani said they are delighted to convey their gratitude as BRSC to the South Korean Embassy for donation and they look forward to an enduring partnership for such worthy causes.

“South Korean Embassy’s great gesture will enable trainees to thrive, to fulfil their dreams to become a reality as this equipments will go a long way in creating great impact in the lives of trainees and their families. We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the South Korean Embassy for their noble gesture of donating the E-learning equipments.”

BRCS offers rehabilitation services spread across three (3) areas in Botswana being Sefhare Stimulation center in Sefhare, Tshimologo stimulation center in Francistown and Tlamelong rehabilitation center in Tlokweng.

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