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Hoteliers seek mandate on beer regulation

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Macharia Kamau | December 18th 2012

By Macharia Kamau

Hoteliers, restaurants operators and owners of entertainment facilities now want to self-regulate the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks at their premises. 

This follows  closure of some businesses in the sector as well as financial and job losses, after the enactment of a law to tame drinking time and illicit alcoholic drinks.

The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2010 was intended to tame alcohol abuse, ranging from failing health to diminished productivity, social disharmony, exposure to venereal infections and traffic accidents and deny easy accessibility to and excessive consumption of alcohol even by persons under 18 years. 

But players are now embedding into law a code of conduct that will give membership associations powers to punish rogue members and directly influence licensing and de-licensing. This, they argue will ward off further enactment of laws regulating sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks.  Through their lobbies – Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (PERAK) and the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC), the players say mandatory enrolment to the associations with a code of conduct and ethics before licences are issued and further empowering of the associations to punish errant members would be key to dealing with challenges posed by excess alcohol consumption.

The move is a reaction to recently published amendments to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2012 that are expected to make tougher the regulations popularly referred to as ‘Mututho Law’, the brainchild of Naivasha parliamentarian John Mututho.

The amendments include a segment that would limit the sale of alcohol in the days tending to the General Elections and revising the legal drinking age to 21 years from the current 18 years.

Illicit Brews

A study by National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse Authority (NACADA) in 2007 revealed that 13 per cent of the population currently consumes alcohol, and that illicit brews and second generation alcohol including chang’aa are consumed by over 15 per cent of 15–64 year olds.

Sam Ikwayi, the Mombasa KAHC executive officer said self-regulation has worked in other industries and could work for businesses that retail alcoholic drink. “As part of the way forward, we are proposing industry self-regulation by establishing an industry Code of Conduct and ethics to aid in controlling the sale of alcoholic drinks, while safeguarding the profitability of businesses,” said Ikwayi in an interview.

“This will work through mandatory membership to associations with a code of ethics thus aiding in the execution of the Act.” KAHC wants its Code of Conduct and Ethics embedded in law, which would give it a legal backing to punish members that go against its ethics.

Ikwayi noted that, with a police force that is short of personnel, KAHC and other affiliate associations had reach across the country and would help implement the law, including monitoring opening and closing hours of entertainment joints.

The association however wants concessions in the alcohol control regulations that include extended hours of operations. Amendments to the Act tabled in parliament by Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi recently,

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