By Mia Slabbert
Grey Medical, a pharmaceutical company in Cape Town, urges the South African Revenue Service to immediately reduce excise duty on raw alcohol sales.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, we decided to assist in the manufacture of hand sanitisers at our approved pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, Edelweiss Laboratories in Capricorn Park, Muizenberg, that is managed by James Gibson.
Edelweiss Laboratories is ISO22716 certified and complies with all regulations for the manufacture of liquids and cosmetics,” Rohan Greyvenstein, owner of Grey Medical, recently told #OpReisSaamMetMia.
“Our goal is to keep the price of our hand sanitisers as low as possible as the prices of such products have increased significantly, and the product is out of stock in all stores across the country. However, we cannot do this because the excise tax to purchase raw alcohol is too high,” Greyvenstein explained.
According to Greyvenstein the country is currently experiencing a major shortage of raw alcohol. “To be effective the sanitiser must contain 60% to 70% alcohol. We believe that most of the raw alcohol is supplied to the state which leaves the private sector with a major problem because no alcohol is available for us to buy and manufacture our product. We are part of the private sector and has the capacity and the will to provide hand sanitisers to the public with pharmacies serving as the middleman,” Greyvenstein said.
“At the moment we are supplying complementary products and Vit B supplements to pharmacies but if SARS would allow distilleries to supply alcohol to the public without the excise duty being so high we will be able to produce 2 100 1-litre bottles of hand sanitiser daily which would then be supplied to pharmacies countrywide,” Greyvenstein said.
“We managed to procure 10 000 litres raw alcohol from a reliable distillery in Cape Town but when the paperwork was being finalised, we were blocked by Excise Duty and we had to produce a guarantee that we have a bond of R2 million in place. That is not something we could come up within such a short span of time.”
Many distilleries all over the world have adapted their service since the #Covid19 outbreak to harness their available alcohol supplies for the manufacture of hand sanitisers.
“We are facing a huge crisis here in South Africa and it is extremely frustrating to know that you can help, and you can make a difference, but the restrictions prevent you from doing so. We want to make ourselves available to assist the country during this difficult time, but for us to do so, SARS really needs to give us relief in this regard,” Greyvenstein pleaded.
Greyvenstein said they managed to supply the Kwanonqwaba Pharmacy in Mossel Bay with 864 1 litre containers of hand sanitiser and could also provide the Mossel Bay fire department with a supply of sanitiser. The fire brigade will then distribute the sanitiser in the area to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s Chief Executive, exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures. “Everything needs to be revisited. Clearly, in this crisis raw alcohol has gained new meaning. It must be regulated differently. The government should not regulate for the sake of restricting. Right now, we also need regulations that will free things up as well.”