By Eliaser Ndeyanale
GOVERNMENT’S proposal to amend the Liquor Bill must be put on hold until an alternative approach has been found, the Namibian Retailing and Traders Association has said.
Speaking at a public hearing on the Liquor Amendment Bill held in Windhoek on Friday, the association’s Andreas Nuule said shebeens play a positive role in developing the country just like any other industry. “Well established business started in informal economy,” he said singling out business magnate Aupa Frans Indongo who reportedly started his business selling sweets on the streets.
What is likely to be amended in the Bill is among others, the Liquor Act of 1998, provision for the issuing of licences to establishments within a prescribed distance in the vicinity of certain areas and the inclusion of residential premises and hospitals as an additional factor to be taken into account when considering a licence application.
The amendment also seeks to provide for the regulation of the selling of alcohol in retail outlets linked to petrol and diesel service stations outside the prescribed hours.
The committee will conduct the public hearings on provisions of the Bill to investigate its implications and report its findings and recommendations to the NC.
It will also scrutinise previous reports dealing with the Liquor Act of 1998.
Discussing the Bill that will add more teeth to the state’s crackdown on alcohol in the National Council last month the House referred the Bill to its committee on public accounts to investigate its implications and report its findings and recommendations to the House on or before October 20.
According to Nuule who was called to give his reasons of objections to the amendment, he is adamant that shebeens are key players in the economic growth of the country. He said there are many families that dependent on shebeens for survival.
He noted that most of these alcohol outlets employ an average of three people, which translates to a workforce of 75 000 – almost up to the level of the country’s largest employer.
He however acknowledged that there are terrible crimes that were committed as a result of alcohol.
“There are horrible crimes that have been committed while the person is under the influence of alcohol but not all the crimes and accidents that have happened in the country were carried by the people from the bars. That’s just a bad perception in our society that we need to change.
“A full research needs to be conducted on how we can combat this. There are also some churches, new churches in our communities making noise and demanding that people should be removed from where they are trading from. How?” he said.
During the debate in the National Assembly on the amendment DTA president McHenry Venaani said lawmakers must consider the fact that some people would lose their income if shebeens were closed.
Venaani’s claim was contested by the Deputy Minister of Safety Daniel Kashikola who said that Government must weigh this loss of income against the number of children failing their exams because they are subjected to loud noise emanating from nearby shebeens, adding that loss of income from selling alcohol was not an important factor to be considered because people would find other ways to make money.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015