Maputo — The Mozambican Association of Small Importers of Alcoholic Drinks (APIBA) has called on the government to extend the trading hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages, which under the current presidential decree can only be traded between 9.00 and 13.00 hours between Monday and Saturday, and not at all on Sundays.
At a press conference on Monday in Maputo, APIBA chairperson Francisco Junior claimed that the current four hours of trading for bottle stores, and for those sections of supermarkets and other shops that sell alcoholic drinks, are having a negative impact on businesses. He claimed that very few, if any consumers, shop for drinks in the permitted hours. (AIM's own observations suggest that this is simply untrue).
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic reached Mozambique in March 2020, the government has limited the sale of alcohol. Bars, night clubs and stalls or kiosks selling alcoholic drinks were ordered to close. The main justification of this was to prevent the gathering of crowds of people, providing an environment in which Covid-19 can easily be spread. Bottle stores and shops are allowed to sell alcohol, but with a strict limitation on when.
"The latest presidential decrees have been severely penalising for those businesses selling alcoholic beverages," Junior said, claiming that this affected over 23,000 jobs across the country.
Junior added that the losses in the value chain, from the smallholder who supplies raw material, to the brewing industry, to the retailers, can range between 30 to 50 per cent.
Before the pandemic, Mozambique's annual production of beer was three million hectolitres, but after the adoption of restrictive measures hit the commercial chain, production slumped to two million hectolitres.
"The amount of losses depends on the subsector. For instance, the subsector of wine sales recorded losses of about 30 per cent, whereas the spirit drink subsector reached 50 per cent losses," said Junior.
He argued that places such as bottlestores, supermarkets, shops and warehouses are not meant for the consumption of alcoholic drinks, which is why they pose no risk of crowds of drinkers gathering, and spreading the disease.
Junior also warned of the fiscal impact caused by the restrictive measures, since the drinks sector is among the largest contributors to the country's tax revenue.