The architect behind setting the lower limit on alcohol bottle size, now says he will be moving to exempt beer firms from the proposed law.
Wundanyi MP Danson Mwakuwona says he will amend the Bill to remove beer from the Bill seeking to alter the minimum alcohol quantity sold in Kenya from 250ml to 750 millimetres.
The Bill has since received sharp criticism from brewers, bottlers and lobbyists, saying it is targeting the wrong sector, will leave many thirsty as well as push some consumers to illicit alcohol dens.
“I will make the amendments to exempt beer from the rules because we have not heard of people dying from beer drinking. The biggest problem here is the spirits, which are largely manufactured by illegal distillers,” Mr Mwakuwona said.
Youth consuming spirits
Youth are currently consuming spirits without any controls, he said.
“That wipes out claims that it will be a costly law for the sector since even wine will not have been affected,” he added.
The Bill, which also proposes that all bottles should have a deposit on them to allow for their return and manage their disposals, has been a subject of debate among consumers and brewers who see it as a move to choke a sector already staggering from Covid-19 disruptions.
Stakeholders contend that while the intention of the Bill may be well-meaning, the unintended consequences will be too much to bear for an industry reeling from heavy taxation, tight controls and ready competition from the illicit market.
The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Kenya), in its submissions before the Departmental Committee on Administration and National Security, said the move will also cause government to lose revenue and a worse alcohol and health situation when illicit brewers move in to fill the void.
“The net effect of this regulation on bottle sizes will create distortions on the supply side and lead to shrinkage of the share of the formal alcohol market. The shift or substitution effects from the formal side to informal side has two consequences: Government will be unable to regulate sale, manufacturing, distribution and standards and forgo revenue,” IEA Chief Executive Kwame Owino said.