The Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA) has held discussions with Hon Evelyn Anite, Minister of State for Investment, and Hon David Bahati, Minister of State for Trade, addressing significant concerns regarding the proposed Alcohol Drinks Control Bill 2023. The proposed bill aims to regulate the manufacturing, importation, sale, consumption, and advertisement of alcoholic drinks in Uganda.
During the consultation at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning boardroom, UAIA members highlighted clauses in the bill that they deem untenable and in need of revision due to potential negative impacts on the economy and the industry if enacted into law.
Key concerns raised by the association include the exclusion or non-regulation of native liquor, accounting for 65% of alcohol produced and holding a 50% market share. They also expressed reservations about the shift of the implementation mandate from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives to the Ministry of Health. Additional licensing requirements for manufacturers and sellers in the alcoholic industry, operating hours restrictions (5 pm to 10 pm on weekdays), and age verification for online alcohol sales were also points of contention.
Onapito Ekomoloit, the former Chairman of UAIA, emphasized the need for fair industry regulation to avoid stifling the economy. He pointed out that the bill does not effectively address the issue of illicit alcohol, which constitutes a significant portion of the market but remains unregulated.
The association urged the ministers to request reconsideration or withdrawal of the bill. Onapito highlighted the industry’s substantial contribution to taxes, amounting to over 1.1 trillion shillings, and its impact on the broader economy through various employment opportunities and financial transactions.
In response, Hon David Bahati acknowledged the concerns raised by the association, particularly regarding illicit alcohol and its implications on revenue and safety. He encouraged the association to provide counterproposals to the bill, fostering an objective resolution of the issues.
Hon Evelyn Anite committed to engaging in dialogue with parliamentary committees on Health and Tourism, Trade, and Industry to assess the financial impact of the bill comprehensively. She stressed the need to strike a balance between addressing economic, social, and health implications associated with the proposed legislation.