By Cecilia Okoth
Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance (UAPA) wants a 5% tax increase on alcohol and the proceeds set aside as a rehabilitation fund for victims of alcoholism.
The alliance observed that the rate of alcohol use in the country has reached unprecedented levels.
UAPA chairman Rogers Kasirye yesterday said proceeds from the tax increase should be put aside for treatment and rehabilitation centres of victims of alcohol and supporting the Police to enforce the law on alcohol.
Kasirye, who released the 2013 report dubbed, “State of Alcohol and Substance Abuse in Uganda,” said children and university students are the biggest victims of alcohol.
While addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Kasirye attributed the enormous increase in alcohol consumption to the alcohol selling points that have failed to comply with the legal age limit of 18 years.
“These days, children are sent to shops to buy all kinds of alcoholic drinks. Other alcohol companies woo the public with free samples of alcohol and most of the people who consume these samples are children,” Kasirye said.
The report highlighted that alcohol sellers do not ask for the age or an identity card from minors who are sent to buy alcohol.
“Minors find it really easy to buy alcohol in Uganda,” the report read. The study showed that majority of universities campuses allow the sale and consumption of alcohol in canteens, hostels and halls of residence.
It also pointed out that communities around universities where most students stay-hostels or rented rooms are hubs for the sale, promotion and consumption of alcohol.
The Uganda Liquor Act cap 93 makes specific provisions on alcohol and children/young people. It provides restrictions on licensed places allowing persons less than 18 years to visit drinking places during the sale and consumption of alcohol.
While reading the budget speech in June, the Minister of Finance, Maria Kiwanuka, proposed to increase excise duty on some spirits from 70% to 140% at importation.
Kasirye, however, argued that heavy taxes should not only be imposed on spirits but also on beers, saying it greatly contributes to low productivity in the country.