Concerns raised over impractical liquor Bill

Parts of the Gauteng Liquor Bill could be difficult to enforce, the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) said on Monday.

A prohibition on selling alcohol to pregnant women showed commitment to the prevention of foetal alcohol syndrome, but could prove difficult in practice, said ARA director Adrian Botha.

“While the intentions behind the legislation are good, it presents a difficulty for the seller. How do they know if a woman is pregnant?”

Many women did not appear pregnant until the third trimester.

According to a section of the draft legislation, a licensed liquor trader will not be allowed to sell, supply or give alcohol to minors, anyone wearing a school uniform, anyone who “reasonably appears to be intoxicated”, or pregnant women.

The draft Bill also makes no distinction between on-premise consumption and off-premise sales of alcohol.

“[According to the draft] pregnant women will not be allowed to buy a bottle of wine for her family and friends to drink at home,” said Botha.

Strict management
Earlier, Democratic Alliance spokesperson Gavin Lewis said that the Bill would conflict with the Constitution and gender equity regulations.

Botha said there were references in the draft legislation to the possible introduction of specified times and days when alcohol sales would be prohibited.

If unreasonable, such restrictions could lead to an increase in unlicensed liquor sellers.

According to the draft legislation, a licence application must be accompanied by the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) or status of the applicant, indicating their shareholding, member’s interest or partnership structure.

It states that the MEC may issue regulations directing that all applicants must meet a certain BBBEE status within a determined period.

Lewis said these provisions could add to the burden of small businesses, which would likely find it more difficult to implement than big industries.

Despite these concerns, Lewis said the Bill did indicate “a real desire to clamp down on substance abuse” and tighten the responsibilities of liquor outlets.—Sapa

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