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Prenisha Govender

Prenisha Govender is an Associate in Baker McKenzie's Johannesburg office.

The growth in demand for online retail services has led to extensive disruption in the Consumer Goods and Retail (CG&R) sector in Africa. Africa-based CG&R businesses have been adapting their digital operating models to keep up with demand, and multinational e-commerce organisations operating in the region are recording rapid growth. However, this digital expansion in the CG&R sector has numerous tax implications, both locally and regionally.

In terms of both market value and volume, South Africa is reported to be one of the top two markets for cryptocurrencies in Africa, alongside Nigeria. It was therefore only a matter of time before the South African Revenue Service joined the likes of the Internal Revenue Service in the United States and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs in the United Kingdom in cracking down on cryptocurrency traders and establishing appropriate tax frameworks.

South Africa recently approved a tax on exported chrome, with further details still to be announced. The ferrochrome ore industry has been severely threatened in recent years, mostly due to increases in electricity tariffs. Some industry stakeholders have suggested that a special electricity tariff would be a better way to support the ailing industry, others have stated that the challenges mean they would not be able to sustain themselves, even after tax relief. And others have welcomed the reprieve that an export tax would provide. As a result, key industry stakeholders have expressed interest in collectively undertaking research to explore a more viable and consolidated approach to support the industry, but there have been difficulties from a competition law perspective.

The National Treasury in South Africa has implemented a deferment of excise duties in respect of payments, for excise compliant businesses in the tobacco and alcohol industries. This is due to the detrimental effect of lockdown restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. Virusha Subban, Partner and Head of Tax, and Prenisha Govender, Associate in the Tax Practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, outline the key details of these deferrals.