By Andile Nsibande | 2020-10-23
THE ministry of commerce, industry and trade has warned traders not to exploit the situation created by the demand for alcoholic beverages by increasing prices.
Director of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Unit Meluleki Dlamini said as the trade in alcoholic beverages returns on Monday, retailers should behave responsibly throughout the period of the lifting of the ban.
He said this would assist government to review some of the remaining restrictions in the trade. This would also help them to be able to return to full economic activity and recover from the losses incurred over the lockdown period.
Among things which the director said traders would be expected to do is to encourage their customers to stick to the preventive measures stipulated by government, which include, among others, observing social distancing, the wearing of face masks and to wash hands frequently. He reminded the traders that prices were still regulated and it was expected that they would stick to the normal prices. Traders were also cautioned against creating artificial scarcity for certain brands of alcohol, which could jack up the prices. On that note, the public was urged to bring to notice to officials such activities by traders.
The demand for alcoholic beverages recently went up following the ban on sales, as a preventive measure for COVID-19 transmissions that was introduced by government about three months ago.
Some traders took advantage of the situation and continued with the sales to desperate people albeit at hiked prices, which was considered unlawful.
Dlamini said the ministry will not hesitate to take direct action in the event they received reports about inflated prices in the industry.
He said anyone found in violation of normal trading laws would be punished in accordance with the law.
He promised that his ministry will launch inspections in trading areas to monitor the situation.
Turning to the black market that exploded during the suspension of legal sales on alcoholic beverages, he cautioned those who had engaged in the practice.
He assured members of the public that the ministry was open to anyone wishing to do business in the alcoholic beverages industry.
He commended those intending to join to follow the normal application procedures. He said the process usually lasts for not more than two weeks, depending on the number of applications available.
The director did not hesitate to state that there will be a clamp down on those selling without the required trading licences.
Dlamini was responding to claims of alcohol being sold illegally at several locations across the country which was costing government deserved revenue.
The unregulated trade sprang up during the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, which included people who operated from their residences, grocery shops or car boots.
The director reminded members of the public that such a practice was illegal and the law would definitely take its course in the event there were people found to be selling alcoholic beverages outside the perimeters of regulated trade.
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