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MPs and UNBS Officials Clash Over Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill


alcoholic drinks control bill presented in parliament

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A dispute has arisen between Members of Parliament (MPs) and officials from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) concerning the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill. This clash occurred during a session of the House joint committee on trade and health on Wednesday, March 6. UNBS officials suggested that many of the provisions regarding standards and penalties in the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023 are already covered by existing laws.

Daniel Nangalama, the Acting Executive Director of UNBS, pointed out that the proposal to ban the sale and production of certain drinks is already addressed under the UNBS Act. Additionally, the Bill proposes restrictions on the sale of alcohol and imposes heavy fines for violations, potentially conflicting with existing legislation if enacted.

UNBS officials highlighted that the penalties outlined in the Bill are comparatively weaker than those in the UNBS Act. They urged the committee to reconcile these differences to ensure consistency in the legal framework.

MPs, including Francis Mwijukye from Buhweju county and Tom Bright Amooti from Kyaka Central, sought clarification from UNBS on whether they consider the Bill redundant given existing legal provisions.

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The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, introduced as a private member’s Bill, aims to overhaul outdated alcohol legislation from the 1960s. It seeks to repeal laws such as the Liquor Act, the Portable Spirit Act, and the Enguli (Manufacturing and Licensing) Act, which are inadequate to address contemporary challenges related to excessive alcohol consumption.

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Furthermore, the Bill aims to prohibit alcohol sales to certain individuals, regulate the promotion and advertising of alcoholic drinks, raise public awareness about the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, and establish provisions for the rehabilitation, counseling, and treatment of addicts.

During the committee session, UNBS Deputy Executive Director of Standards, Patricia Ejalu, acknowledged that the bureau lacks statistical data on what constitutes high alcohol consumption by an individual. This admission highlights a potential gap in understanding and addressing alcohol-related issues effectively.

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