- Tax Justice South Africa founder Yusuf Abramjee firmly believes the tobacco ban should be lifted
- Abramjee has claimed that SA is losing R35 million in tax revenue daily due to the ban
- Briefly.co.za explores how accurate this steep price is as the nation continues to endure the lockdown prohibition
Yusuf Abramjee, the founder of Tax Justice South Africa, is a fierce advocate for the lifting of the tobacco ban amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
Abramjee insists that the ban is serving no purpose except to fill the pockets of black market traders.
Speaking during a video posted to social media, Abramjee lamented the immense loss of tax revenue due to the ban:
“It’s a well-known fact that South Africa is losing R35 million each and every day because of the ban on cigarettes."
AfricaCheck reports that Abramjee was mostly correct when he made this claim, pointing out that tobacco tax collection varies significantly depending on the market.
Abramjee had access to the previous year's figures while newer data collected in the first month of lockdown revealed that tax revenue was R36.2 million per day if you looked at 2019 amounts.
This number was inflated to R60.5 million a day if you considered April 2018's revenue collections.
As the restriction endures, the variation in tax collection would have less of an effect and this estimate will become more accurate.
Abramjee says that the government has essentially written a blank cheque for criminals:
“With their decision to extend the irrational and unworkable tobacco ban, the National Command Council has written a blank cheque for criminals and robbed the South African people of billions of rands that could save lives.
"All the evidence shows that the vast majority of smokers are not stopping smoking during the lockdown and are simply buying on the black market, so the ban is failing in its sole stated purpose."
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