A proposed bill banning alcohol advertising has pitted two ministers of the South African government against each other. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula argues that the government may lose half a billion rand if alcohol advertising is banned. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, is heading the interministerial committee on alcohol and substance abuse and wants to pass the bill, but finds himself in a deadlock with Mbalula. After the National Treasury couldn’t help settle the argument, the matter will be brought to the Cabinet next month.

If passed, the draft Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill will see a complete ban on the advertising of alcohol. It will also raise the age at which people can buy alcohol from 18 to 21 and take a zero tolerance approach to drunk driving.

The Sunday Independent reported that the understands that the interministerial committee on alcohol and substance abuse, the departments of social development, health, education, justice, police and trade and industry are in favour of the bill and want it to be passed urgently. Opposition to the bill comes from the sports and arts and culture departments which are concerned about the loss of revenue.

The Sunday Independent also writes that tensions were high when the interministerial committee met this week to discuss the options. The National Treasury was asked to investigate several options to guarantee an influx of money to compensate the possible losses that are expected by the sports, arts and culture departments.

“National Treasury does not support the proliferation of earmarking of taxes. A proliferation of earmarking of taxes does not conform to sound fiscal policy,” said a note by the Treasury that was intercepted by the Sunday Independent.

Several researchers and opinion makers suggest that alcohol is responsible for a large part of the national income, however the Department of Health argues that the negative social impact of alcohol on South African society far outweighs the benefits.

Source: IOL News 08/25/13

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