- A Botswana High Court has today indefinitely suspended a government imposed 30 percent alcohol tax to control abuse.
Justice Unity Dow suspended implementation after a state attorney informed court that they had requested Judge Julian Nganunu to appoint a panel of three judges to deal with matter.
"Latter having acceded to that request, this matter has to be adjourned to a date on which such a panel can sit," Judge Dow was quoted as saying.
Pending an order to contrary by the panel of three judges currently being constituted by Chief Justice, Judge Dow made an order that status quo be preserved.
The attorney for the applicant, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), made an urgent application before court that new 30 percent levy be suspended pending consultation process that government promised when it announced that it was to implement 70 percent on alcoholic beverages.
They accused government of somersaulting on its decision having agreed with both KBL and Botswana Breweries Limited (BBL) to adoption of national alcohol policy.
In the application, KBL argued that tax be set aside because Section 3 (2) of Control of Goods, Prices and other Charges Act, did not confer any authority for imposition of a levy on goods as a way to make them less affordable or unaffordable and as a moral aversion to product.
Levy was initially to be increased by 70% but was later reduced to 30%, after consultations between government and stakeholders.
However, the brewers pledged that in the meantime, they were prepared to contribute 13 million Pula to fund a plan to address dangers of alcohol abuse in Botswana.
Judge Dow has reportedly ordered that respondents to file and serve their answering papers, whether they be answering affidavits and/or points of law, by 17 October 2008, then on 31 October, applicants to file and serve their replying papers.
In his first independence address as head of state, president Ian Khama appealed to liquor industry and people to support implementation of anti-alcohol abuse measures for promotion of dignified and healthy living.
"Challenge of alcohol abuse has been with us for some time, we are aware of alcohol's role in promoting spread of HIV, as well as its significant contribution to anti-social, risky and criminal behaviour, including child abuse, violence against women and deaths on our roads," president Khama said.
President had said levy would be used in funding public education and rehabilitation programmes, as well as law enforcement measures. Botswana turned 42 years today.
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