Policy Documents Out for Public Comment

The Department of Trade and Industry published its Final National Liquor Policy on 30 September. The Policy outlines recommendations for amendments to the National Liquor Act. At the same time, the Western Cape Provincial Cabinet published its Alcohol-related Harms Reduction Policy for public comment. Both these documents contain significant implications for consumers and liquor licence holders in terms of how people sell, buy and enjoy alcohol responsibly. Comments need to be submitted by 28 October 2016 for the Final National Liquor Policy and the Liquor Amendment Bill. For the Western Cape Alcohol-related Harms Reduction Policy, comments need to be submitted by 30 November 2016.

SALBA is assembling an industry task team to respond comprehensively to the proposed bill and green paper (policy).

Members who wish to comment individually are advised to seek to align their position with that of SALBA and the industry task team. Comments on the bill should be sent to NRamphele@thedti.gov.za for the attention of Ms Nkoe Ramphele.

Here are some of the main points of the Final National Liquor Policy proposals:

Harm reduction
Limiting access through raising the LDA (legal drinking age), the 500m rule, restrictions on advertising and an increase in excise are being proposed in the final policy document.

Restrictions and parameters for advertising and marketing of liquor products
The following measures are mentioned:  advertisements may only be broadcast from 22h00 to 06h00, content appealing to youth in alcohol advertising should be removed, for example using sport stars and branding of liquor premises and delivery trucks should be prohibited.

Raising the minimum age
The national minimum legal age at which alcohol can be purchased and consumed will be raised from eighteen (18) to twenty one (21) years.

The 500m rule
New liquor premises must be located at least five hundred meters (500m) away from schools, places of worship; recreation facilities, rehabilitation or retreat centres, residential areas and public institutions.  Stricter conditions for sales will be imposed on existing premises located within the 500 meter radius.

Extended Liability
Traders and suppliers should be held responsible for harm or damage within or near the premises. Retailers who serve intoxicated persons will bear liability for harm or damage.

Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE)
The National Liquor Authority will be empowered to ensure that licensing conditions as articulated in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Codes of Good Practice are imposed and strictly monitored. Noncompliance to the BBBEE Codes will result in the suspension or revocation of the licence.

In addition, there are further measures proposed for both new and existing liquor licence holders in the Western Cape which will add considerably to the costs of obtaining and keeping a liquor licence – costs which will ultimately trickle down to consumers.

Application for liquor licenses
The administrative burden and cost of liquor licence applications will be shifted from the Liquor Authority, Municipalities and the Police to applicants. This means the applicant will be required to conduct the public participation process which includes contacting the municipality, neighbours, community based organisations etc. and to pay for advertisements in the newspapers.

In addition, police clearance certificates will be required for shareholders and directors of applicants.  (This requirement has been introduced in other provinces and increases the cost of applications and also extends the timeline.)

Management of licensed premises
Managers appointed for licensed premises will have to undergo training and will be required to pass a test on compliance with the Act. It is proposed that a licence holder or manager must be on site at all times when the outlet is open for business.

Limit on licenses based on alcohol related harms
It also proposed that in areas where there is a higher incidence of alcohol related harms, the number of licenses should be limited and once such limit is reached, no new licenses will be granted.

Renewal fees based on volume
Applicants will pay annual renewals based on the volume of alcohol sold.

Phasing out of grocers’ wine licenses
It is proposed that grocers’ licenses will be phased out where there is an off-consumption liquor outlet within 50 meters of that grocers’ store. This is obviously of major significance for retailers who either have their own liquor stores close to their supermarkets or have supermarkets located in the vicinity of liquor stores operated by third parties.

Reduced trading hours
It is also proposed that trading hours be reduced for on- and off-consumption outlets.

Increased excise and minimum unit pricing
The national government will be lobbied to increase the price of alcohol through increased excise tax and/or introducing minimum unit pricing.

If you would like to comment on the Western Cape Green Paper, the email address is alcohol.greenpaper@westerncape.gov.za

(extract taken from news24.com – Article by Cathy Marston)