Matthew Lester: Confession of an Eastern Cape coke addict

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Matthew Lester: Confession of an Eastern Cape coke addict
Matthew Lester: Confession of an Eastern Cape coke addict

The Eastern Cape pays less than 8% of South Africa’s personal tax.  Yet more than 15% of RSA’s population lives here. So we try to take up some of the slack by paying sintax on smokes and booze. But until they legalize what could be our greatest green export, ‘Transkei Rooibaard,’ we will remain RSA’s second most dependent province, behind KwaZulu Natal.

As a resident of the Eastern Cape I have succumbed to some of the dirty habits. After all there is no other way to survive the Eastern Cape winters. And although there is nothing finer than a whiff of a joint on a fishing boat, it burns my throat. So I am not going there.

The ‘no society’ say there is no hope for me. And they are not impressed by the additional sintaxes I pay on smokes and booze, or even the 14% VAT on all the medication to delay the rot.

So with a 55% inherent tax rate we smoke 11 in a pack for SARS. There is a tax-free alternative readily available at the nearby shebeens, the gray market cigarettes that jump the Zimbabwe border. But they taste like sh$t. Some say you get over that if you smoke them for a week. Many do.

16 tots in a bottle of whiskey are also consumed for ‘volk and vaderland.’

Sintax collections, excluding VAT are budgeted at R31 billion for 2014/15. That’s enough to pay for around 120 Nkandla’s. Some say that the costs of damage done by booze and cigarettes is much more than the sintax collected. But the actuaries say I wont need much in my retirement plan unless I am related to Keith Richards.

But all this is not my immediate problem.

As a kid the standard coke was 200 millilitres, served in recyclable glass with a deposit. It was a treat perhaps twice a week.

I was in awe in 1970 when the 1-liter coke arrived. Mom said that was six glasses. But she didn’t factor in glugging from the bottle so it was actually four.

The liberty that was first-year university was not all about booze and the fairer sex. Being able to buy as much coke as your allowance could afford was cooler than Pac man.

By the time I started working a 2-liter coke was no challenge in the course of an evening. That’s 40 teaspoons of sugar before bed. The result was first signs of diabetes by 30. Yes we have the gene in the family but Mom only got there at 60.

I kicked coke at 32. But I reckon some damage was already done.

I don’t care what the cardiologists say about Tim Noakes. He does it for me, at least for the time being. If I am careful and keep off sugar and refined carbohydrates I hope to stay off the needles for a while longer.

All this started with my coke addiction.

I am horrified when I look at what the grocery store has become today. Just take the sugar-loaded items next to the tills. Carefully placed to make sure kids will shred their parents’ trousers if they don’t get their daily fix. I think it’s a harmful business practice.

Jeremy Clarkson writes that if they invented the car today it would never go into production. Far too dangerous! I reckon the same would happen if we suddenly discovered sugar and refined carbohydrates today.

Apparently the human body just wasn’t designed to eat sugar and refined carbohydrates.  I never was much good at biology but my vet friend explains it in the context of a dog.’ You don’t see him steal wheat and mielies from the fields. Like humans they’re also not made to eat sugar and refined carbohydrates. So they don’t do it!’

The damage sugar is causing to our nation is obvious. But here’s the rub. While booze and cigarettes are taxed at 55%, sugar is only subject to VAT at 14%. And the sugar content in brown bread is even zero-rated for VAT.

There are more and more calls for a tax on sugar and soft drinks. I don’t think it will ever happen, as the poor would feel the greatest impact.

But we shouldn’t be leaving the war on sugar and refined carbohydrates as just being an unsolvable tax issue. If corporate governance now looks fort responsible corporate citizenship should we not be asking some questions of our friendly grocers? Or are they still allowed to rely on ‘the customer is always right?’

So Whitey Basson my question is ‘if you are selling 6 billion items per annum, please give us some indication as to how much of it contains high levels of sugar or refined carbohydrates.’

If we are to give true meaning to the Triple Bottom Line Approach ‘3BL” then shouldn’t we be concentrating on ‘People’ a little bit more and not just ‘Profit and a bit of Planet?

Article by: Matthew Lester

Article Source: Biz News