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Lockdown bites MMB



MASERU-THE Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB) says it could throw away beer worth M127 million due to the Covid-19 restrictions on alcohol sale. MMB said the beer is currently stuck at its brewery warehouse and some depots in Lesotho. The beer, according to the company’s press statement issued yesterday, will have to be thrown away because of the Covid-19 lockdown that has banned beer sales. “The process of decanting beer is not only an expensive exercise but has adverse environmental effects as well. If the restrictions continue this will completely collapse the industry,” the statement reads. The MMB said the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is losing M45 million a month every time the restrictions are in place. Countless businesses that relied on the MMB for operations, the statement said, already had to close their doors following the government’s decision to ban the sale of alcohol. Through consultation with the wider industry, an estimated 30 percent of small taverns and bars will not re-open post the alcohol ban, the MMB said. Meanwhile, 25 000 jobs created by the industry are said to be at risk with wholesalers, off sales, bars and taverns temporarily retrenching most of their workers or not paying them for days not worked. The alcohol industry is said to support in excess of 25 000 families and accounts for three percent of the country’s GDP. The MMB also said it is cutting 10 percent of workers’ salaries this month to December next year. The company said this is a strategy to try and minimise the risk of future retrenchments as a result of inadequate funds due to the countrywide restrictions that have prohibited the sale and consumption of beer. The company will also cancel its capital investment for 2020 worth M70 million which was targeted at increasing its brewing capacity as well as depot expansion. Furthermore, all local service providers whose services are viewed as non-critical including third party transporters will be replaced by MMB’s own trucks. The statement said should MMB’s business outlook deteriorate further the company might be forced to retrench. Lemohang Rakotsoane

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