Kenya’s President signs alcohol Bill

September 1, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – Hopes that the government would soon regulate the skyrocketing prices of essential goods have hit a snag after President Mwai Kibaki declined to assent to the Price Control (Essential Goods) Bill.

President Kibaki sent a memorandum to Parliament, expressing his reservation with the regulations that were abolished in the 1990s. Speaker Kenneth Marende informed the House that the Head of State had rejected the Bill as it was.

“I have received a memorandum of refusal to assent to the Bill. The memorandum has to be considered by September 16, 2010,” said Mr Marende.

The Bill introduced by Mathira MP Ephraim Maina was passed by Parliament in June this year and was only waiting the Presidential assent to become law. The Bill sought the government to be obligated to issue price ceilings on essential goods whose prices keep fluctuating to cushion members of public from exploitation.

Among goods that Members of Parliament wanted the government to regulate included food items, sugar and fuel. The National Economic and Social Council has been consistent in discouraging price controls on the basis a liberalised market.

However the House can reject the memorandum by securing the 75 percent vote needed to override a Presidential veto.

Other Bills signed into law include the Indemnity Repeal Bill and Animal Technicians Bill.

”The law requires that when the President submits a memorandum, the House shall deliberate on it within 21 days,” said Mr Marende.

Traditional brew lovers however have a reason to smile after President Kibaki signed into law the Alcohol Drinks Control Bill that legalises the traditional liquor. The manufacture and packaging of these brews will however be strictly regulated. 

The brews will be packed in 250 millilitre bottles or more.

“It was duly assented to by the President on August 13, 2010,” said the Speaker.

However the Bill also reigns into the high end beers market by regulating their advertising and sale. Consequently fancy adverts that glamorise alcoholic drinks, link beer to social success and therapeutic value will now be outlawed. This also brings to an end the multi million shilling promotions run by the giant brewers where people win beer and money since it “encourages the consumption of alcohol.”

Consumers will not be allowed to buy alcohol in the supermarket or corner shops. The Bill also outlaws the sale of alcohol to uniformed police officers and the sale of the same on credit basis. Bars will also be required to display large health warnings in strategic positions in their premises.

The legislation also requires labelling of the product, including health warning and product contents. Beer manufacturers will be required to ensure that the health warning occupies at least a third of the beer bottle.

The law takes effect after 90 days and the Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration will be required to gazette new rules that will govern the new bill.
The new law comes into force, at the backdrop of reported deaths resulting to the consumption of illicit brews.
Other bills that have also been assented by the Head of State include the Commissions of Inquiry Amendment Bill, the Prevention of Organised Crime Bill. 

It was sponsored by Naivasha MP John Mututho, and seeks to regulate every aspect of the alcohol business. Anyone going against the provisions would be committing an offence and would be liable upon conviction of a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.


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