SA's Hospitality Sector slates new liquor, BEE rules

Carin Smith

Cape Town - If certain proposed amendments to the national liquor policy are implemented, it will have a big impact, especially in small towns and villages, according to Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa).

Fedhasa is taking the matter up with organisations like Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

It is proposed that liquor premises be located at least 500 metres away from schools, places of worship, recreation facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres, residential areas and public institutions.

It is also proposed that if such a license is already issued, it should be terminated within a period of two years.

"We are opposed to this proposal, because of the practical implications it would have especially in small towns and villages. One would almost have to go into the desert to get your liquor stocks," he told members of Fedhasa's Western Cape branch on Wednesday.

"The liquor policy should deal with the social problems it wants to address and not hamper legitimate businesses."

Another proposal, which Fedhasa is not happy with, is that the national minimum legal age at which alcohol can be purchased and consumed should be raised from 18 to 21 years. Tshivhengwa said it would be ironic, for instance, that one could get married in SA at the age of 16, but then not be able to go out to a hotel and have a drink with your spouse if you are under 21.
He said Fedhasa is also worried about the proposed restriction of advertisements of alcoholic beverages and prohibitions of sponsorship and promotion associated with alcoholic beverages, as this would impact its members.

Another proposal for the national liquor policy amendment questioned by Fedhasa is that traders should not serve liquor products to already intoxicated persons.

The proposal is that "should that happen and the intoxicated person is involved in a car accident or crime related to substance abuse, the manufacturer, distributor and trader should bear liability for any harm or damages”.

According to Tshivhengwa this is simply not practical.

"Who is going to police this? Our police already have a tough time with their current tasks," he said.

Lastly, he is puzzled by the proposal that an establishment's liquor licence could be suspended or revoked if it does not comply with BBBEE codes.

"How can you lose your liquor licence if you are not BEE compliant? The licence is a matter of business," said Tshivhengwa.

He also raised some issues Fedhasa has with the new BBBEE codes.

Fedhasa supports the current R10m threshold proposal for eligibility as an exempted micro enterprise as set out in the generic codes. It is not in favour of the proposal that only enterprises with an annual total revenue of less than R2.5m qualifies as an exempted micro-enterprise.

The organisation would also like to see eligibility to qualify as a large enterprise in the hospitality industry to be a generic threshold of R50m in annual total revenue and not the proposed R35m. Tshivhengwa explained that many businesses in the industry - for instance travel agents - handle money on behalf of other parties and, therefore, the total revenue would seem larger than what it really is in reality.

As for the measurement of ownership in terms of the new BBBEE codes, he said Fedhasa believes the current generic ownership threshold of 25% should be maintained, and the proposed 30% ownership only looked at in 2017.