Industry Leaders Warn of Economic Fallout from Proposed Alcohol Control Bill in Uganda

Uganda Manufacturers Association has cautioned Parliament against passing the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023 in its current state, warning of potential economic repercussions as the legislation primarily targets the formal sector, leaving the informal sector to produce illicit alcohol harmful to consumers’ health.

Allan Ssenyondwa, Director of Policy Research and Advocacy at Uganda Manufacturers Association, emphasized the need to legislate for both the informal and formal sectors, highlighting the prevalence of illicit trade due to Uganda’s informal nature and urging against undue burdens on businesses that could hinder innovation and growth.

The Association voiced these concerns during its appearance before the Joint Parliament’s Committee of Health and Trade to provide feedback on the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023, tabled by Sarah Opendi (DWR Tororo). Ezra Muhumuza, Executive Director of UMA, challenged MPs to gauge the impact of anti-alcohol campaigns on their political careers and advocated for addressing alcohol abuse through behavioral interventions rather than new legislation.

Rejecting clause 5(5) of the bill, which mandates a prerequisite for granting licenses only to business premises located 400 meters away from schools, health facilities, residential areas, and places of worship, the Association criticized the provision as impractical and potentially antithetical to Uganda’s liberal economic framework. Ssenyondwa argued against confining operations within restricted radii, citing potential challenges in recruitment, retention of qualified employees, and decreased productivity.

Similarly, the Kampala Capital City Traders Association (KACITA) urged Parliament to refrain from imposing time limits on alcohol sales in bars, citing concerns about infringing on leisure time for Ugandans. Abel Mwesigwa, Chief Executive of KACITA, emphasized the importance of considering diverse behavioral patterns and the impact on workers’ leave days and leisure time when drafting legislation affecting the alcohol sector.