* Govt imposed a 30 pct alcohol tax
* Trading conditions seen tough for next 6 months
JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 Botswana's Sechaba Brewery
Holdings SECH.BT posted a steep slide in first-half sales on
Wednesday, blaming a 30 percent alcohol tax imposed a year ago
as part of a government social order campaign.
Sechaba, the largest brewer in the world's biggest diamond
producing country, described the 27 percent revenue decline as
one of its worst financial performances. Operating profit fell
by 29 percent in the six months to September.
The company also pointed the finger at a severe recession in
the landlocked southern African nation of 1.8 million people,
where diamond sales account for nearly 40 percent of output.
"The sales volume of clear beer and sorghum beer declined by
35 percent and 14 percent respectively. In addition to the levy,
the sales performance was also affected by recessionary economic
conditions and unusually cold weather," the company said.
President Ian Khama, a UK-trained army officer and son of
Botswana's first president, introduced the alcohol tax a year
ago as part of a campaign to tackle an HIV/AIDS infection rate
of nearly 25 percent, one of the world's highest.
To reduce alcohol-related high-risk sex, the government also
shortened opening hours for bars.
In its results statement, Sechaba contested whether the
legislation had led to an overall cut in alcohol consumption,
saying it had seen "large-scale migration" to stronger and
The trading outlook for the next six months was tough, with
proposed regulations on traditional beer expected to have a
further impact on sales, the company said.
(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by David Holmes)