Taxes, crime cutting into beer drinking
-Reis tells Banks shareholders

Stabroek News
April 23, 2003

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High taxes and the crime wave have been cited as the main reasons for the reduction of sales of Banks Beer, a key product of Banks DIH Limited.

According to Clifford Reis, Chairman and Managing Director of Banks DIH, speaking on Saturday at the company's 47th Annual General Meeting (AGM), sales of the product have slipped by 1 million bottles in the last ten years.

And he noted that in 1992, the company was paying $44 per case in consumption tax, while in 2002, it was $600 per case - 13 1/2 times what it was before. Consumption taxes in 2002 were $1.76B.

Reis added that a reduction in nighttime activities due to the intensifying of crime was also responsible for the weak sales.

He did note that smuggling of foreign beer into Guyana had been reduced and the quality of packaging had been improved.

Reis made the point that Banks Beer by way of consumption tax contributed to Guyana's Gross National Product (GNP) and that the industry should not be destroyed by high taxes. He added that taxes on alcoholic beverages should be calculated in terms of alcohol strength as pertained in most countries.

He noted that the government had listed beer as a sensitive product as part of CARICOM's submission to the negotiations aimed at creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Banks DIH aims to be undisputed food, beverage leader by next year
Chairman and Managing Director of Banks DIH, Clifford Reis, has declared that his company aims to be the undisputed leader in the food, beverage and banking business in Guyana by 2004.

This position, he said, would be achieved by the application of the values of focus, innovation and passion.

Reis was speaking during the company's 47th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at Thirst Park on Saturday.

He said that last year's energies were focused on strengthening the vision, the connection with customers and employees and the trusting relationship with shareholders.

"Nevertheless, given the scope and severity of the business challenges, which we, like every other company in Guyana, faced last year and continue to face, the year 2002 can be listed as the most challenging one the business sector ever experienced in Guyana's history."

Despite that however, the company made an after tax profit of $619M in 2002 compared to $618 in 2001. The Banks group had an increase to $747M up from $694M in 2001.

Reis said at the start of 2002, no one expected the year to end on such a troubling note in addition to the downturn in the economy, which was partly because of world events and partly because of the continued political instability. The security of citizens was shattered by the crime wave, creating a state of fear and a climate in which no individual or business could thrive, Reis said.

The company exports Banko wines, Trisko cereals and XM rums to Trinidad and other West Indian countries and to Togo, West Africa. Banks Beer and Banks Malta are produced in Canada. Reis said exports of the company's products must be developed in 2004.

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