Mututho faults Treasury for hiking alcohol prices

Former National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) Chairman John Mututho. [Standard]

Former National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) Chairman John Mututho has faulted Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich for hiking alcohol prices.

Rotich, while reading the 2019/20 budget statement at parliament on Thursday, increased the excise duty on beer and other alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and tobacco products.

Addressing the press in Nakuru, Mututho said hiking the prices of genuine alcohol will encourage production and consumption of cheap illicit brew.

“The new policy will promote the use of unsafe traditional brews and development of harmful counterfeits. I totally disagree with the move to increase duty on alcohol,” said Mututho.

Mututho instead recommended the lowering of taxes imposed on approved alcoholic drinks, saying that this will make it more affordable, the end result being gradually killing the consumption of the illicit liquor.

He added that though the reduction of prices on approved alcohol will not reduce its consumption, it would reduce the harm caused on the consumers.

“Bringing the cost of alcohol lower closer to that of illicit liquor will see the consumers move to the approved brands and kill consumption of chang’aa. This will have lesser impact on the consumers health as opposed to the illicit,” said Mututho.

He called on the government to review the new taxation regime and come up with proper strategies that will discourage brewing of illicit liquor and its consumption saying that it is still a threat especially to the young generation.

Meanwhile, the former Naivasha MP faulted the local legislators for not lobbying for funding on the local agricultural sector especially potatoes whose farmers have been suffering.

"The government supporting the Miraa sector by Sh1 billion should have seen other sectors such as potatoes get equal or more allocation. This was not fair to potato farmers who have been suffering over the years," said Mututho.

Mututho said with the recent developments the towns are on the brink of collapsing, citing closure of banks and the collapse of various sectors that provided a lifeline to them.

The government has withdrawn the 10 per cent taxes imposed on importation of raw timber which will greatly affect timber towns most of which are in the Rift Valley.

"Towns like Elburgon, Molo, Mau Summit and Maji Mazuri are on their deathbed and it appears the government has no plans to revive them. They depended on the railway transport, agriculture and timber industry which are being pushed to the edge," said Mututho.

Years ago, Barclays Bank closed down its branch in Molo which has been followed by the exit of Equity Bank in Elburgon where the only banking ATM was recently closed.

Mututho pointed out that the budgetary allocations and taxation regimes were not fair, citing them as too little to revive the towns and various sectors back to their feet.