Capital FM (Nairobi)

9 January 2013

Kenya: Alcohol Law Will Not Affect Hotel Residents - Mututho

The Alcoholic Drinks Control (Amendment) Bill 2012 debate continued on Wednesday with Naivasha MP John Mututho refuting claims by hotels and tourism players that the law will have adverse effects on their businesses.

Mututho, who introduced the Bill, insists that the proposed rules are aimed at curbing poll violence and will not in any way affect their sales.

He has also denied claims that they were not consulted before the Bill was introduced in Parliament adding that all stakeholders were given time to give their views in all the counties.

"I know they are talking also about tourism being affected. Honestly, if we have a tourist from Germany or even myself at a hotel in Nairobi, that means I must be a resident and can drink 24 hours at designated areas in these hotels. So what are the big talks about chasing away tourists?" Mututho wondered.

The proposed amendment, seeks to bar the sale of alcohol two days before General Elections and subsequently before a by-election in a given area.

Another contentious issue proposed in the amendment bill is the regulation of alcoholic promotions and advertisements.

It also seeks to have nightclubs operate strictly from 7pm to 3am, supermarkets and private members' clubs adhere to selling of alcohol between 5pm to 10pm, on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends.

Speaking when he addressed a press conference at Parliament buildings on Wednesday, Mututho warned licensed bar owners to stop pointing accusing fingers at illicit brewers because they have continued to defy existing laws by operating before or after restricted hours.

"You walk around this town; most of the so called slum areas shut down their drinking joints at the given time of 11pm and this is the case in the rural areas. They can't afford to pay the Sh2,000 which the police, who are patrolling at that time, demand as fines. But the bars where the rich frequent, are closed at 6am and this is a fact," Mututho said.

However Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya chairman Peter Muya insists that the law did not incorporate the views of the stakeholders in the sector and that there were no consultations as Mututho claims.

Muya said it was wrong for the legislator to look like he is demonizing the alcoholic industry despite the already existing laws and the huge revenue to the government.

"We would once again want the MP to tell us how many people have died in a particular bar or restaurant or hotel in this country because of drinking. He should focus much enforcement the current law. He should give evidence of those licensed businesses that disobey the current law and not generalize," Muya told Capital business.

The new bill has passed through the second reading in Parliament and is now set for the Committee stage.

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