The Alcohol Beverage Association of Kenya (ABAK) has lobbied against a new Bill which if passed by parliament, will make the sale of alcoholic drinks on less than 750ml illegal.
The Bill, tabled by Wundanyi Member of Parliament Danson Mwakuwona, argues that the move will help reduce the alcoholism menace in the country, especially among the youth. The Bill also proposes that consumers be forced to pay a cash deposit whenever they intend to purchase alcoholic drinks packed in glass containers.
ABAK Chairman, Gordon Mutugi, during a statement release challenging the new Bill said, “We believe this is an outrageous, retrogressive proposal that has no place in our developing economy today and we are opposed to the proposals in the Bill.”
The Association cites the following reasons for their opposition to the Bill.
The proposed law is discriminatory to a majority of the alcohol beverage consumers who cannot afford alcohol packaged in 750ml containers, which sell at higher prices and are therefore inaccessible to those who currently buy in smaller containers.
Elimination of the option to sell alcohol packed in smaller packages would undoubtedly force those who cannot affordable quality alcoholic beverages sold in larger packaging to seek illicit and unhealthy alternatives, such as the purchase of alcohol in bulk and sharing it into smaller containers, or consuming contraband alcohol from neighboring countries.
The ADCA 2010 law already has mechanisms in place to prevent underage access to alcoholic beverages. Enforcement is essential to ensure there is no alcohol sold or served to minors.
Both alcohol and glass manufacturers have made significant investments in 250ml, 300ml, 440ml and 500ml packaging. These investments will be rendered untenable if the Bill is passed, with billions of shillings at risk, and direct job losses in the glass manufacturing, alcohol making and packaging sectors.
The imposition of a deposit requirement on glass containers will force manufacturers to pack alcoholic beverages in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, which have an extremely negative impact on the environment and human health since the material is non-biodegradable.
Alcohol manufacturers have mechanisms to collect returnable glass from the market. Requesting for deposit on the same unduly burdens manufacturers with unnecessarily duplicative financial and administrative processes in recycling.
ABAK further raised a request to the National Assembly to reject the Bill and has made submissions to the Committee on Administration and National Security on the same.