29 January 2014

Mozambique: Regulation On the Control of the Production, Marketing and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages Is Under Discussion

Maputo — On 29 January, at a meeting convened by the CTA, the entrepreneurs of packaging industry and the producers of alcoholic drinks have met with representatives of the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Health to raise their concerns about the Decree 54/2013 of 7th of October and its Regulation entitled "Regulation on the control of the production, marketing and consumption of alcoholic beverages."

These texts were approved by the Council of Ministers and published in the Bulletin of the Republic of Oct. 7, 2013, with entry into force planned for early April 2014, all without prior consultation of the private sector.

Before starting the discussion, entrepreneurs present at the meeting acknowledged the government's efforts to address public health problems caused by the abuse of alcohol. They said they wanted to work with the government to develop a clear and equitable law to all parties, which will control and regulate the production and marketing of alcoholic beverages.

However, entrepreneurs have raised several points to be revised, as these may cause serious damage to national production leading to plant closures, unemployment and need to import.

First, there is an error in the title of the regulation, which refers to the production, but the decree does not address production. This will be discussed in a forthcoming special decree said José Rodolfo, General Inspector of economic activities.

The lack of definition of terms used in the text has also been criticized. For example, Article 7-6: "The sale of alcoholic beverages, including exposure to the sale is not permitted in plastic containers [...]." In this case, what does plastic exactly mean? Container ? These concepts must be defined with clarity and objectivity. If the plastic is actually banned, it will be necessary to import glass, causing disrupt in the trade balance, cause the outflow of money, increase the country's dependence on imports, result in the closure of plastic packaging factories and therefore unemployment.

Besides, who will be able to collect the glass? The company Cervejas de Moçambique is currently the only one to have the ability to collect glass.

Other discrepancies were noted:

✦ In terms of responsibilities, article 10-2, states: "The producing industries and importing companies must submit their products for inspection and quality certification at the National Laboratory of Hygiene, Waters and Foods", while article 15-4, "It is the responsibility of the Institute of Standards and Quality to issue a certificate of quality for alcoholic beverages produced and imported in the country and to monitor compliance with certification standards and quality."

✦ In terms of prohibitions, there is a contradiction between the distance and local of sales. The sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited: "in schools and around educational institutions" (Article 5,-E) , and "in time interval between 20:00 and 9:00 in all authorized places where the sale of alcohol is permitted, except in restaurants, snack bars, nightclubs, bars and pubs" (Article 5-I). If so, what happen to formal licensed establishments located near a school ? Quid juris ?

The Director of CTA, Kekobad Patel, emphasized that entrepreneurs were not consulted, that goes against the culture of public-private dialogue.

He also stressed the lack of technical knowledge on the part of the legislator. He added : "publishing a law without definition opens the door to corruption, the law must be clear and objective, here the opposite happens. The decree needs to be completely revised, step by step! ". He concluded : "We will do everything we can to make this decree does not enter into force."

Let us remember, that in the synthesis of the 31st Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of 10th of September 2013 that accompanies this decree, which was read by José Rodolfo, General Inspector, the following points are clearly stated :

✦ This decree can not discourage the development of domestic industry; ✦ It can not ban the use of plastic packaging for alcoholic beverages.

The positioning of the CTA will soon be sent to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, with knowledge of the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Prime Minister.

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