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Press Release

Take two steps key to survival, TJSA tells President

Tuesday 21 April 2020 – Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) eagerly anticipates the Presidency’s announcement of coronavirus crisis relief measures tonight and urges bold steps be taken to protect the economy and the people.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “President Ramaphosa has shown great leadership in this unprecedented crisis and the people have shown their respect in enduring the strictest lockdown in the world for 26 days.

“But it is clear now that everyone is feeling the pain, and the poorest are feeling it the hardest. The economy has also been in lockdown and the money to ease that pain is in short supply.

“Tonight is an opportunity for the President to fine-tune his lockdown rules to keep the people on board and the economy turning.”

TJSA is calling on the President to take two bold but simple steps to boost morale and state revenues:

  • Allow supermarkets, fuel station stores and spaza shops to sell their full inventory of goods
  • Allow transport of SA-produced goods for export

“South Africans are suffering enough already, without having to stress about what goods are deemed essential,” says Mr Abramjee.

“If people are allowed to visit the store, what they buy there has no impact on the spread of the virus. Petty rules about what is off-limits only undermine the credibility of the lockdown and make it less likely to be adhered to.

“The financial impact of the cigarette ban alone is devastating, as it costs the Treasury R35 million a day in lost excise revenues. South Africa’s 11 million smokers feel persecuted and illegal traders are cashing in.

“Illicit cigarettes are flooding the market at massively inflated prices, delivering no tax to the country and actively increasing the movement of people – the very thing the lockdown is supposed to prevent.

“Almost R1 billion has already been lost at a time when the people and the country need it most. TJSA is advocating that the ban should be lifted on cigarette sales, and other items in supermarkets, spaza shops and fuel stations, to shoppers buying groceries.

“Any hindrance to the export of SA goods is also costing us dearly right now. With the rand at historically low levels we could be bringing in much needed revenue and establishing markets that will help us to recover from this crisis.

“TJSA is therefore advocating that the transport be allowed of all SA-produced goods for the purposes of export.”

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