Beer prices rise as new law comes in

18Jan 2021
The Guardian
Beer prices rise as new law comes in

​​​​​​​BEER prices in Zanzibar have shot up, with a standard brand now selling at 4,000/- to 5,000/- a bottle instead of 3,000/- or slightly above, with the coming into effect of the Zanzibar Alcohol Control Act (No 9 of 2020).

Importers of alcoholic drinks in Zanzibar will now have to seek permits from the Zanzibar Alcoholic Drinks Control and Advisory Board, and after an alcohol importing tender was floated only three firms came forward. The usual big importers did not participate, a situation that greatly decreased importation of alcohol in the Isles thereby spurring the price rise.

“This is a big challenge. The prices of alcoholic drinks including beer have shot up and I think the government should quickly intervene,” said Oscar John, a regular beer customer.

He said Zanzibar depends on tourism hence having in place stringent legislation on alcoholic drinks is likely to have a negative impact on the Isles economy.

Speaking at the weekend, the Zanzibar Minister of State in the President Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) Masoud Ali Mohamed said there was a tussle among alcohol dealers and the Zanzibar Alcohol Control Board.

He said before the control legislation was passed and signed by the Zanzibar President in May last year, stakeholders in the alcoholic drinks sector jointly discussed the matter with Permanent Secretaries.

He said the aim of the law’s passage was to control importation and distribution of alcoholic drinks in order to remove complaints from the people, as well as ending the smuggling of alcoholic drinks into the Isles.

“It would be better if the law is adhered to as it has enlisted individuals and firms allowed to import alcoholic drinks, but there are also challenges that can be solved without violating the law,” the minister said.

He stated however, that it was too early for the law to be amended before seeing its benefits and challenges since it has just come into effect this year, and the board should educate the various stakeholders.

Abdulrazak Abdulkadir Ali, the chairman of the control and advisory board, said the board issued licenses to six firms instead of three after taking into consideration government revenue collection.

The new law replaced a 1928 Ordinance, established the control board mandated to issue licenses and specified permits to hotels, bars, liquor stores warehouses and alcohol distribution centres, as well as permission for holding special occasions involving extensive use of alcohol.

The new law tightened the importation, storage, sale, distribution and usage of alcohol in the Isles, including introducing 25 years of age as the lower age limit for a person to be sold alcohol for personal use.

It also puts hoteliers who sell alcohol in a tight corner as they aren’t allowed to employ a person under the age of 25 to sell alcohol.

Anvild C. Asawua, the leader of the Zanzibar alcohol importers and distributors community thanked the government for seeing the need to allowing more than three companies to obtain permits to import alcohol.

He however suggested that the Zanzibar Alcohol Control Act be revisited as many bars were in danger of being closed due to the harsh conditions of the provisions of its section 28. Read More...

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