Alcohol ad ban will be bad for sport, MPs told

South African sport will lose critical sponsorships due to government's planned ban on alcohol advertising, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Sport and recreation director general (DG) Alec Moemi briefed Parliament's portfolio committee on sport on the consequences of the proposed law which was approved for gazetting for public comment last month.

"It will be a sorry day for us in sport if that is to happen, and if we will lose such a significant sponsorship, because frankly … what the Treasury is giving us is grossly insufficent to drive sport," Moemi said.

The DG referred to the ban on tobacco advertising which he said the sport department had supported wholeheartedly.

But they had believed that the money collected from increases in "sin taxes" would be directed to the department.

"When tobacco withdrew and the money was not forthcoming as was promised we argued with Treasury … year in and year out Parliament witnessed a Budget tabled where there was an increase in the taxation of both tobacco and alcohol and yet no proceeds were coming directly to sport," Moemi said.

Development
The sport department budget had not grown significantly over the years, but was "constricting".

Moemi said he would not be drawn into the debate on whether there was a direct link between alcohol advertisements and alcohol abuse.

This debate should be left to the health and social development departments.

"What is of interest to us is that those that purport that the ban must be in place ought to indicate to us where the resources will come from to support sport … one solution that has unintended consequences on other functional parts of government ought to be considered as well," said Moemi.

If the ban went ahead, the department would need guarantees on where the money for sport and its development objectives would come from.

"This time we will not accept by word of mouth. We would want it either legistlated or alternatively written down and such a commitment from Treasury will have to come," he said.

Severe impact
​Representatives of major alcohol companies and a researcher also told the committee the impact of a complete ban on alcohol advertisements would have a severe impact on sport.

BMI Sports Info, SA Breweries and Brandhouse projected the economy would lose about R7.4-billion if the ban was imposed.

In addition, thousands of jobs would be lost.

The draft bill has been driven by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who continues to argue it costs government double the amount of money to deal with the effects of alcohol abuse than what the industry contributes to the economy.

Motsoaledi has been quoted as saying it costs government R40-billion a year to deal with the impact of alcohol on society. – Sapa

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