The decision to suspend the issuing of liquor licenses in Gauteng will hurt job creation in the province and will also lead to an increase in illegal trade, says Patrick Atkinson, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on economic development.
Atkinson’s comments follow after Panyaza Lesufi, Premier of Gauteng, said this week that the issuing of all liquor licenses will be stopped in the fight against drugs and the sale of illegal goods.
Atkinson believes the decision will prevent entrepreneurs from starting new businesses in the drinks sector, which plays an important role in creating jobs for many unemployed residents.
“It is now more important than ever that entrepreneurs are supported by the government by issuing liquor licenses to trade as there are over 2.5 million unemployed residents and over 600 000 discouraged job seekers (in Gauteng).
“By granting no new liquor licenses, the formal economy is deprived of any chance of growth. This will result in a drop in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the province.”
Atkinson says that this will also fuel the illegal trade in alcohol, as well as the opening of illegal bars and taverns which in turn harm law-abiding liquor dealers.
He believes that illegal taverns can also have far-reaching consequences, including the promotion of organized crime and the incitement of alcohol use among minors. It will also hamper efforts to curb drug abuse.
Today, we received a full briefing to launch taverns of the future in our communities. The tavern of the future will blow your mind. Thanks to the new Heineken Vision. Exciting times indeed #GrowingGautengTogether pic.twitter.com/oOC8FsdLmF
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) November 14, 2023
The DA is now demanding an explanation from Lesufi and the MEC for economic development, Tasneem Motara, about why a decision was taken to suspend the issuing of liquor licenses, and whether they have at all considered the effects on local entrepreneurs.
Lesufi argued earlier that a meeting was called with all Gauteng liquor organizations in the industry and that the industry praised him for his decision to suspend the issuing of licences. However, this statement was refuted by the Gauteng Liquor Dealers Association (GLTA), which represents more than 35,000 liquor dealers in Gauteng.
Nevertheless, GLTA indicated that from now on it will continue to work with the government, communities, faith communities and other stakeholders to “find an amicable and sustainable solution to this regrettable and irrational decision to suspend the issuance of liquor licences”.