Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mututho drafts Bill to raise drinking age

Naivasha MP John Mututho. Photo/FILE

Naivasha MP John Mututho. Photo/FILE 

By PAUL WAFULA [email protected]

Naivasha MP John Mututho has stirred the beer industry with another controversial proposal to extend the minimum drinking age from the current 18 to 21 years.

Mr Mututho says he has already finalised the draft law and sent it to a legal team before tabling it for public debate.

“This proposal is based on research in the United States, which shows that people who start drinking below the age of 18 are more susceptible to alcoholism than those above the age of 21,” Mr Mututho told the Nation in an interview.

Mr Mututho argues that the new law will raise Kenya’s drinking standards to bring them at par with the US.

East African Breweries Limited (EABL), the major player in the multi-billion-shilling industry, maintained that though it was not opposed to regulation, laws should be aimed at encouraging business growth and not stifling businesses.

“Regulation is good if it ensures that legitimate businesses thrive. I don’t believe Parliament will be interested in just passing punitive laws to stifle businesses,” EABL group chief executive officer Seni Adetu said.

The proposal comes at a time when the beer industry is coming to grips with the controversial alcohol law that reduced the number of hours bars can operate and legalised traditional brews.

The industry is also staring at a further increase in taxation rates next financial year as the government seeks ways of meeting its budget shortfall. 

The Treasury has indicated that it expects the taxman to collect Sh150 billion more next year.

Mr Adetu holds that the government should consider comparing what other countries globally are doing before effecting new measures.

“We are in constant dialogue with the government to ensure that legislation meets both its objectives and ours,” the CEO said.

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