A National alcohol draft policy has been launched in Accra in an effort to stem the rising trend of alcohol abuse in the country.
The policy, facilitated by the IMANI Centre for Policy and Education (an African think tank and non-governmental organisation), and supported by the Association of Alcohol Manufacturers and Importers, seeks to urge the government to adopt and implement the policy.
The policy was drafted as a result of series of broad consultations with overseas experts, government officials and two national symposium over two years.
The first draft of the policy was on May 13, 2008 and was presented to the former Minister of Health, Dr George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, in May 2009.
IMANI’s Executive Director, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, said the policy sought to formalise the operations of the alcohol industry in the country.
He said the policy was aimed at changing behaviour by encouraging positive and discouraging negative patterns to create an informed society, reduce harm due to alcohol misuse, and ensure product quality and integrity to protect consumers from unsafe products.
Mr Cudjoe said the policy was to help the government in the implementation of a comprehensive and community-endorsed national policy to ensure that alcohol was provided to the community applying appropriate level of regulations.
“For a policy of this nature to be effective and sustainable, co-operation and creative partnerships across all sectors of society are required,” he noted.
He said the policy was also aimed at preventing under-age drinking and to offer protection from harm. The Head of Corporate Relations of Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited, Mr Edwin Baffour, said it was important to have a framework that would regulate the alcohol industry, even though the government generated lots of revenue from the industry.
He said the misuse of alcoholic products caused harm to the user and those in the community. He, therefore, appealed to the government to adopt the policy for the good of the country.
Mr Ali Traboulsi, Managing Director of Cape Trading Company Limited’s, advised the government to tackle the issue of increase in alcohol tax head-on since it had the tendency of reducing demand for the product.
He said the increase in tax would encourage under-invoicing and smuggling of alcohol into the country through the borders.
Representing the Accra Breweries Limited, Mr Chris Wulff-Ceaser advised consumers to regulate their drinking habits and encouraged the government to work together with the industry to help build the country.