Western Cape premier Alan Winde says that the province plans to introduce further regulations around the sale of alcohol in an effort to curb abuse.
Speaking in his state of the province address on Wednesday (17 February), the premier said that the economic damage caused by the national ban on alcohol sales during the Covid-19 lockdown was unsustainable.
However, he said that the provincial data showed that there are clear problems with alcohol abuse in the country.
“That is why we are instead pursuing more targeted interventions by amending the Western Cape Liquor Act. These amendments will directly and indirectly reduce alcohol harms, as well improve the efficiency of the Western Cape Liquor Authority,” he said.
Winde said that a series of these first amendments will be presented to a Regulatory Impact Assessment committee next week, and a formal submission to cabinet will happen by the end of next month.
“Our intention remains to have this amendment bill published for public comment in the next few months.
“In addressing this major problem in our communities, I am also committed to working with the industry and consumers to find new and innovative solutions to reduce alcohol-related harms in the Western Cape,” he said.
Some of the changes which have previously been mooted under the amended act include:
- Ensuring that a record of all liquor sales is kept by outlets and prescribe the measure of detail required;
- Permanently confiscating seized liquor following the payment of an admission of guilt fine;
- Obliging licence holders to take reasonable measures to determine that a client is of legal drinking age;
- Inserting an objective test within the Act to determine whether alcohol has been sold to an unlicensed outlet/individual;
- Aligning the Act with the Liquor Products Act to ensure a uniform definition of “Illicit liquor”;
- Providing for a public participation process to alter existing licences.
In October, Winde said that the province was also considering making alcohol more expensive as a deterrent.
“As part of these amendments, I can announce that we have now put ‘per-unit-of-alcohol’ pricing firmly on the table for consideration,” he said.
“This will make it more expensive to buy alcoholic beverages with higher alcohol percentages; an approach which evidence suggests can be effective in preventing binge drinking.”
Winde said that the province will also consider stricter times for the sale of alcohol, even after the expiry of the National State of the Disaster regulations.
“This tougher approach must be matched with incentives for liquor outlets who do follow the rules, he said.
“It also requires that we make it less burdensome for unlicensed vendors to become compliant, so that we can eradicate the illegal sale of alcohol in our communities. We must have the courage to get the job done on alcohol.”