Mixed reactions to sin tax increase

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pretoria - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's idea to increase the fuel levy and taxes on alcohol and tobacco products was received with mixed reactions from both the taxi industry and the general public.

In his Budget Speech earlier today, Minister Gordhan said there would be a general fuel levy increase of 10 cents a litre on both petrol and diesel on 6 April 2011.

Excise duties on alcoholic beverages will be increased by between 4.5 and 10.3 percent - an increase of 6.4 cents for a 340ml can of beer, 13.5 cents per bottle of wine, or R2.86 for a bottle of spirits.

Taxes on tobacco products will increase between 6 and 10.2 percent - 80 cents more for a packet of 20's cigarettes.

During a snap survey conducted by BuaNews in the Pretoria city centre, people expressed dissatisfaction on the increased fuel levy, with many fearing that public transport fares would be increased.

Jackson Sithole, 41, a taxi operator from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, told BuaNews that government should subsidise the taxi industry.

"With these increases, life for us becomes more difficult. We are not making any money; instead we're sinking deeper into debt. Every month we are expected to pay installments for our vehicles, the banks are constantly threatening to repossess our vehicles," a worried Sithole said.

His sentiments were echoed by fellow taxi operator, Lucky Mphomane, who agreed that government should help the taxi industry more.

"We're not making any money. We live hand-to-mouth, the cost of operating is more than what we making," he said.

With regard to the increase on tobacco products, the news was received with mixed feelings, with some giving a thumbs-up on the increase, while others said it's a bad idea.

Owen Malele, 44, told BuaNews that people should stop smoking and drinking and channel their money into food and other important things.

"Alcohol has contributed to many social ills that we are seeing today. Young people no longer respect their elders, it's all because of alcohol," he said.

Eddy Mason, 36, has a different view, saying increasing alcohol and tobacco prices is not a good idea.

"For some of us, drinking is a form of relieving stress after a hard day's work," he said.

Mason does acknowledge that alcohol has contributed to many social ills. He called on people to drink responsibly and for alcohol not to be sold to under-age people.

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