KAMPALA – Alcohol brewers in Uganda have expressed reservations on the proposed Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill – saying it was ‘diversionary and regressive.’
This was during another stakeholders’ meeting with the bill drafter, Sarah Opendi – the Tororo district Woman MP at Parliament on Wednesday.
The Chairperson of Uganda Alcohol Industry Association – UAIA, Francis Onapito Ekomoloit said the bill would only be relevant if it targeted the 65 per cent of illicit and unlicensed alcohol in the market. He proposed that the title of the bill should be changed to ‘Illicit Alcoholic Control Bill.’
“This is so because 65 per cent of the alcohol consumed in Uganda is illicit and unlicensed. That is the bill that is needed,” said Ekomoloit, adding that the bill should exclude the 35 per cent of alcohol that is controlled and licensed.
“You cannot bring a bill to control what is already controlled because my group (UAIA) is dealing with controlled alcohol. We are fully having production licenses by law and that is a requirement by Uganda Revenue Authority,” he said.
UAIA which has existed for over 20 years is an organisation that brings together alcoholic drinks manufacturers and distributors in Uganda.
Ekomoloit, who is also the Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs at Nile Breweries Limited, said the bill in its current state was an attack on peoples’ freedom to socialise; an attack on farmers and the treasury.
“Anything in the bill which reduces our ability to sell is an attack on the treasury; it is an attack on jobs. This alcohol industry contributes about a trillion shillings to the economy……alcohol should be made freely available for all adults,” he said.
Ekomoloit is also opposed to the proposal to limit drinking hours saying; “There is no evidence that the person who drinks in the morning is necessarily abusing alcohol.”
Juliana Kaggwa, the vice chairperson of UAIA, and also Director of Corporate Relations at Uganda Breweries Limited said the bill was bad for the country’s economy.
“The alcohol industry is contributing 4.9 per cent of the GDP, which is above one trillion shillings in tax. We are employing people in the entire value chain which starts with farmers,” said Kaggwa.