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Govt booze ban hiccup?

Pravin Gordhan has agreed to consider an appeal for government not to turn its back on SA wine.

FILE: De Doorns vineyards. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has agreed to consider an appeal for government not to turn its back on South African wine.

Congress of the People (Cope) MP Nick Koornhof made the plea on Thursday, a day after the medium-term budget policy statement.

Gordhan revealed a range of measures to cut down on excessive government spending.

He said no alcohol would be bought with public funds, but says exceptions would be made for state banquets.

Earlier on Thursday, Koornhof raised concerns over the decision.

"I think it's a little bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I think it was good to say all imported alcohol out, all hard liquor out. But we should not turn on the wine industry."

He says it's unthinkable that South African wines would not be served at state functions.

"We are in huge competition with the rest of the world and the wines are our ambassadors."

While briefing Members of Parliament (MPs) and officials from National Treasury on Thursday, Gordhan agreed to reconsider the scope of the alcohol ban.

Wines of South Africa Chief Executive Su Birch said it was unimaginable for South African wines not to grace the palates of dignitaries.

"I think we should be very proud to serve a 100 percent South African product that is acclaimed throughout the world. I can't conceive of an entertainment evening that doesn't have wine."

Birch adds the wine industry's role in building the economy is reason enough.

"I would like to say to the honourable minister that South African wine is a major contributor to his budget, we've got fast-growing exports for his balance of payments and we make heavy excise payments."

Parliament recently spent around R3 million on a revamped cellar, stocked with 3,000 bottles of the finest South African wine.

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