Bots hikes alcohol levy to fight abuse
Gaborone – As part of its effort to fight the ever increase in alcohol abuse, the Government of Botswana increased the alcohol levy by a further 10 per cent effective December 1. This was revealed by President Ian Khama last week. The levy was at 30 percent. Despite mixed feelings arising from an increase in the alcohol levy, Khama is quoted as saying that the increase was one way of working to reduce alcohol abuse, which is most prevalent among the youth. Khama told a gathering at Moreomabele village in Central District last week that this is done with the hope that the worrisome situation will abate in the course of time. “Money derived from the levy will be used to educate members of the public about the effects of alcohol abuse both to their own lives and to the welfare of their communities,” said Khama. He added that the police were also doing everything in their power to control the situation by conducting breathalyzer tests as well as monitoring the operating hours of alcohol outlets. The police and bye law enforcement officers , Khama explained have the power to close outlets found to be generating noise. President Khama revealed that the government was reviewing the liquor regulations so that nobody will be allowed to sell alcohol from a homestead. “The change would contribute to a conducive environment favourable to school going children when studying and learning at home,” he said. Recently the Minister Dorcas Makgetho-Malesu, there are other 65 countries that have successfully introduced the alcohol levy but a number of them have imposed steeper levies compared to Botswana’s 30 percent introduced in 2008. According to the Minister in the United Kingdom (UK), the alcohol levy on clear beer is 40 percent, 43 percent in Australia, and 56 percent in Ghana. Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritius both have 55 percent alcohol levy, while Nigeria’s levy is 45 percent. Finand’s alcohol levy is 60 percent. In Norway, Sweden, Finland, they also have a separate levy for spirits at 80 percent, 87 percent, Malesu revealed that in April this year two consulting firms, Deloitte and Touche and Probe Market Intelligence, were engaged to determine the effectiveness of the levy and other interventions in reducing excessive alcohol consumption. “The findings of the study are that drinking habits have not changed significantly since the introduction of the alcohol levy in November 2008. The consultants have recommended that government should intensify and continue with targeted public education utilising the alcohol levy for sustained behaviour change,” said Malesu.