A private member’s Bill called the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2023, was introduced for consideration in a parliamentary session on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. The primary objectives of this proposed legislation are to regulate the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alcoholic drinks and to prohibit their sale to children.
The bill, spearheaded by Member of Parliament Sarah Opendi, was officially gazetted as required by law. MP Opendi, representing Tororo District, was granted leave by the House to introduce the Bill on November 8, 2022. However, it faced a hurdle as it did not have the necessary certificate of financial implications during its first reading. Speaker Anita Among explained that, after the Finance Minister declined to provide the certificate, they invoked section 76(4) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015, allowing the bill to proceed to its first reading.
Having surpassed the mandatory 60-day waiting period, the Speaker referred the Bill to the Committees on Health and Tourism, Trade, and Industry for scrutiny. Once these committees review and report back to the House, further steps in the legislative process will be taken.
The Government of Uganda recognizes the multifaceted impact of alcohol consumption on both social and economic aspects. While alcohol has historical significance, ongoing scientific research reveals adverse health, social, and economic consequences. These consequences range from personal and family disruptions to broader societal and national development issues.
Among the documented effects, alcohol use contributes to various diseases, including infectious and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes, mental illness, and chronic heart diseases. The bill acknowledges the need for a comprehensive approach involving various sectors, including Health, Gender Labor and Social Development, Justice, Law and Order, Local Governments, Education, Trade and Industry, Finance, and Civil Society Organizations, to effectively implement the proposed policy.
Uganda’s efforts align with global initiatives, including the World Health Assembly’s resolution in 2005 to reduce harmful alcohol use. Additionally, the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 3 – Good Health and Well Being, emphasize the importance of addressing substance abuse, including the harmful use of alcohol.
To address the challenges posed by alcohol consumption, Uganda has formulated a policy that calls for collaborative actions from all stakeholders to reduce its harmful effects.