Government gives alcohol manufactures deadline to stop kavera sachets
Government has given alcohol manufacturers up to September 30, 2017 to stop the sale of alcohol packaged in sachets.
This is one of the resolutions agreed on in a meeting between the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde and members of the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association at the ministry offices in Kampala.
According to officials, alcohol sold in sachets has become a danger especially to the youth because it is cheap and easily accessible, with the smallest sachet of 100ml going for only shs.500. Currently, 75% of the alcohol manufactured is sold in sachets while the rest (25%) is sold in bottles.
The meeting on Tuesday was called by Kyambadde in a bid to address the challenges of excessive consumption and abuse especially the youth. According to officials, the portable alcohol in sachets has resulted into negative personal and social consequences for many due to failure to regulate its use.
Kyambadde noted that although government recognises the importance of the alcohol industry in employment creation and contribution of revenue inform of taxes, the packaging of alcohol needed to be changed from the small sachets which are cheap, easily accessible and easy to move with, to bottled alcohol.
“There is general abuse of the production and consumption of alcohol, which pauses, health, safety, social and environment problem to the entire public and communities – especially the youth”, noted Kyambadde.
She said problems that include domestic violence, youth dropping out of school, traffic road accidents and environmental degradation among others are all associated with abuse of alcohol.
“Such negative effects of the alcohol industry have raised concerns among the public, communities and government, and require to be effectively and sustainably addressed by Government,” said Kyambadde.
The Minister said it is because of the negative effects that Government has decided to impose a ban on the packaging of alcohol in sachets effective end of September, 2017. Manufactures are required to pack alcohol in plastic bottles or glass from that date.
Manufacturers ask for more time
The alcohol processors and distributors acknowledged the danger posed by alcohol in sachets, however, they pleaded for more time until 2018 to allow them effectively prepare for the transition.
“We need more time to purchase the machines for the production of plastic bottles, train the people to operate those machines and conduct a lot of sensitization. Besides, the alternative tetra packs are also very expensive and not readily available on the market,” said P. Vijaya Kumar the Managing Director for Chief Distillers Uganda Ltd.
However, Kyambadde said government needed to move very fast to address the problem of alcohol abuse, or else the manufacturers would be the ones to suffer when pressure mounts from the public which in the end would kill the industry. She said the period of 9 months was sufficient for them to transform and turn to packaging in bottles.
The Vice Chairperson of the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association Ndahura Augustine told the minister that they were willing to stop the packaging of alcohol in kavera sachets, but government needed to deal with the elusive alcohol manufacturers who are not members of their association, majority of whom use lethal ingredients in alcohol.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Ambassador Julius Onen assured the manufacturers that his ministry is will fast track the development of a new law – the Alcohol Bill that will regulate the production, distribution and consumption of alcohol. Onen said the Bill will be tabled before Parliament by June 2017.
The alcohol manufacturers agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) with clear Terms of Reference (ToRs) to ensure that all alcohol producers are under their umbrella association – Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA) which currently has 40 members.
The minister also directed UNBS to publicise the regulations and administrative directives of the alcohol industry, including the requirements of certification of the product for information of the investors/public within 2 weeks from date of the meeting.
The meeting on Tuesday was attended by alcohol manufacturers and distributors including Uganda Breweries Ltd, Premier distillers, SCOUL, Harris International, 4 Star Beverages, Boss Beverages, London Distillers among others.