Amanda Watson
News Editor
2 minute read
17 Jan 2019
6:01 am

Tobacco war heats up over whether it’s true Sars is being robbed

Amanda Watson

Targeted harassment is the latest tactic in the war between the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) and the Tobacco Institute of South Africa (Tisa).

“I am afraid of the threats being made against me after I started asking questions,” said Chris Adamson, whose wife was allegedly not paid for a survey she did on illegal tobacco.

Freshly Ground Insights Africa (FGI) allegedly contracted her to conduct the Ipsos survey, which is being used by Tisa to hammer Fita member Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC).

Based on the report, Tisa has claimed “Gold Leaf Tobacco’s RG brand” sell for an average price of R10 and was “clearly evading the R17.85 owed to Sars on each pack.”

“Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation now represents 73% of the market for illegal cigarettes,” Tisa has claimed.

But GLTC has denied this.

Adamson believes his wife was owed close to R20,000, and when he started making a fuss over late payment, he claimed his church leaders were contacted, he was instructed to send a letter of apology, and he was also warned he would face legal action.

The latter threat came after he started looking into how the survey was conducted by FGI, which has had since December to respond to queries from The Citizen.

Adamson alleged FGI contracted another individual to oversee the research done by four researchers, which placed a large gap between direct involvement Ipsos has had with the survey. Ipsos stated the division which worked on the study would “get back to you if any reaction is required”.

Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni alleged the interviewers were given strict instructions to interview only black vendors and traders for the report, and appeared to not have command of any languages which would allow them to interview vendors.

In August, Sars announced it had met with both organisations.

“Fita and Tisa, which represent approximately 99% of the tobacco industry, have committed to take action against any of their members that are found to be contravening the tax, customs and excise laws of the country, including but not limited to suspension and/ or expulsion,” the statement read.

Yet despite Tisa’s gunning for the R8 billion illegal trade, little appeared to have been done. The SA Revenue Service did not respond to questions.

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