Kampala — Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde yesterday said government will next year ban sachet alcohol given their health hazard to the community.
Speaking during the launch of the Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) new glass packaging line at in Kampala, Kyambadde said: "For waragi (alcohol) in the kaveera (sachet), we shall start with the one less than 200ml. Those factories producing them are already in the process of bringing in equipment that will package their alcohol. It is a gradual process that will start in September and the total ban will be in March 2019."
The Ministry of Trade in consultations with stakeholders has prepared the Principles of Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill which is due for presentation to the Cabinet.
The Bill will be key in the total ban of sachet alcohol and regulation in the industry.
Mr Mark Ocitti, the UBL managing director, welcomed the ban, saying it will create a clean trading environment.
Sixty eight per cent of alcohol consumed in Uganda, according to Mr Ocitti, is illicit with much of it packaged and consumed in sachets.
Illicit alcohol includes counterfeits and one that is produced without stringent controls.
Ms Kyambadde said preparations had been made to establish a bottling factory under Uganda Development Cooperation.
"We have already made arrangements with the investors. In Masaka, we have the best sand for bottles so in future you might be sourcing bottles from here instead of ordering from Kenya or elsewhere," she said.
Ms Kyambadde also admitted that there were a number of illicit alcohol manufacturers that are unknown.
According to Mr John O'keefe, the Diageo Africa president, illicit alcohol does not only hurt licensed distillers but causes government to lose revenue as well as promote irresponsible drinking.
"Approximately 61 per cent of alcohol in Uganda is unbranded and does not pay any tax. It is estimated that the total fiscal loss from this is Shs628b. In addition, an estimated 98 per cent of all alcohol abuse stems from this unbranded, unregulated illicit alcohol," he said.
The alcohol industry, according to the Ministry of Trade, ranks among the top tax payers, having contributed about Shs235b in form of Excise Duty in the 2015/16 financial year. It also directly employs 60,000 people along the entire value chain.