4 December 2012

Kenya: Tourism Sector Demands Changes to Alcohol Law

Photo: John Fraser/IPS
Parliament has approved the pre-poll alcohol Bill.

Hotel and the tourism industry players are now calling for a review of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010, which they say continues to have adverse effects on the sector.

The industry has supported an amendment that had been proposed by Mt Elgon MP Wilfred Kapondi - but which was shot down in Parliament last week - to have the law amended to increase the time allowed for the sale of alcohol by six hours, to protect businesses from collapsing due to huge overheads and low returns.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Chief Executive Officer Mike Macharia said on Tuesday that self regulation in the industry through a code of ethics will greatly aid in the successful implementation of the Act without affecting the tourism sector.

"The implementation of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2010 and the regulations thereof has dealt a debilitating blow to the local alcohol industry and its associated sectors. We must thus guide the policy makers as key stakeholders to first address the causative factors if we want to live the spirit of this Act," Macharia said.

The Pubs Entertainment and Restaurant Associations of Kenya (PERAK) vice chairperson Alice Opee said some of the effects in the industry include the closure of five major clubs in the coastal region with over 100 employees losing their jobs this year alone.

"This is a huge loss in terms of revenue. Can you imagine a club being closed down and maybe it was making around Sh2 to Sh3 million? Then don't forget those who will lose their jobs," she protested.

Apart from the issue of 'limited' time given to sell the alcoholic drinks, the players called for the introduction of regulations that would allow some establishments to sell alcohol to parents who are accompanied by their children. Such regulations, they said, allow parents to have drinks with their children in a controlled manner to allow more families have time to bond especially in this holiday season.

The operators say the licenses should be awarded after vetting, to certain classified institutions.

Moreover they have proposed the establishment of another arbitration agency to oversee the activities of the licensing committee, arguing that the biggest challenge with regulations has been enforcement and not legislation.

They have also recommended proper definitions in the regulations of the different restaurant categories to alleviate what they term as 'confusion and ambiguity'.

Concern has also been raised by KAHC and PERAK over the recently published Alcoholic Drinks (Control) Amendment Bill 2012, in which Naivasha MP John Mututho is seeking to increase the regulator's powers to control the sale and consumption of alcohol.

The industry players argue that the proposals would further oppress the industry.

Since the law came into effect last November, there have been concerns of an increase in the production and consumption of illicit brews.

Investors selling certified products as well as consumers on the other hand continue to endure harassment, face severe penalties and incur losses as a result of new rules.

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