Government has given alcohol manufacturers up to September 2017 to stop production of alcohol in sachets or face the consequences of the law, Daily Monitor has learnt.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the ministry of Trade, in part, reads: “Government has given alcohol manufacturers up to September 30, 2017 as a deadline to stop the sale of alcohol packaged in sachets.”
This means from that date onward manufacturers will be required to pack alcohol in plastic or glass bottles.
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said this was part of the resolutions agreed on in a Kampala meeting on Tuesday between the ministry and members of the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association.
The meeting was called by the minister to address challenges of excessive consumption and abuse of the portable alcohol in sachets which has resulted into social problems especially for the youth.
According to her, although government recognises the importance of the industry in employment creation and revenue contribution, it is time alcohol packaged in sachets is abandoned.
She said it should be changed from sachets which are cheap, easily accessible and easy to move with, to bottles. A small sachet of 100ml goes for as low as Shs500.
“There is general abuse of the production and consumption of alcohol, which pauses, health and safety; social and environment problems to the entire public and communities especially the youth,” she added.
Ms Kyambadde further said: “Problems including; domestic violence, youth dropping out of school, traffic road accidents and environmental degradation are all associated with abuse of alcohol.”
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 sensitisation,” the managing director, Chief Distillers Uganda Ltd, Mr Vijaya Kumar, said.
He added: “Besides, the alternative tetra packs are also very expensive and not readily available on the market.”
The vice chairperson of the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA), Mr Ndahura Augustine, told the minister that they were willing to stop the packaging of alcohol in sachets, but government needed to deal with the elusive alcohol manufacturers who are not members of the association, with majority of whom using lethal ingredients.
The Permanent Secretary of the Trade ministry, Mr Julius Onen, assured the manufacturers that his ministry will fast track the development of a new law – the Alcohol Bill that will regulate the production, distribution and consumption of alcohol.
Mr Onen said the Bill will be tabled before Parliament by June 2017.
The manufacturers agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) with clear terms of reference to ensure that all alcohol producers are under their umbrella association - UAIA which currently has only 40 members.
Ms Kyambadde 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 two weeks from date of the meeting.
REASON FOR BAN
Dangerous. Alcohol sold in sachets has become a danger especially to the youth because it is cheap and easily accessible. According to the ministry of Trade data, currently, 75 per cent of the alcohol manufactured in Uganda is sold in sachets while the rest (25 per cent) is sold in bottles.