State pushes for production of safe, cheap liquor

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024 02:30 | By
DP Rigathi Gachagua
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at a past function. PHOTO/DPCS

The government is working on a model of reintroducing low-priced but safe and affordable alcoholic drinks as one of the ways of eradicating illicit brews in the market.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said under the model, the government will also address taxation, which impedes production of cheaper but safer brands.

Gachagua spoke yesterday in light of the ongoing government crackdown on illicit liquor manufacturers and sellers. He said talks are ongoing with a leading alcoholic beverages manufacturer over production of the low-priced beverage.

“We have asked the manufacturer to start a cheap, healthy and affordable alcoholic drink. We will address the taxation issue. The main problem is on the portable spirits, whose alcohol level is extremely high and toxic, which have ruined families. As a government, we have a responsibility to eradicate the illicit brews,” said the DP.

He said he has held talks with the East Africa Breweries Ltd (EABL) managing director Jane Karuku on how the firm can manufacture cheap and affordable beer.

“I told madam Karuku to sit with her people in the management and see how they can produce cheap and affordable beer for the common Kenyan. On taxes, I promised her that the government is ready to lower them to acceptable levels,” said the DP. 

Speaking in an interview at vernacular stations Kameme TV and Kameme FM yesterday, Gachagua explained that the ongoing fight is targeting manufacturers and sellers of the illicit and illegal brews.

The DP highlighted the government’s achievements and the ongoing efforts to turn-around the economy.

“Legit businesses will not be affected by the crackdown. Bar owners must unite and work with the government in eradicating the rogue traders and manufacturers producing the killer drinks. Instead of rushing to court to fight the crackdown, the bar owners should establish an organisation to eradicate the rogue traders among them.”

Bar owners

He added: “Bar owners must stop claiming that the government is fighting their businesses. They should assist the government eradicate illicit drinks as they have also destroyed their businesses. We are not fighting legitimate businesses because the Ruto administration supports genuine enterprises,” he stated.

He said the government will not allow unscrupulous traders to kill people.

“Greed and overnight chase for accumulation of wealth led us into this menace. Let us be reasonable and responsible towards wealth creation. We will do whatever we can to win the war. The illicit brews have ruined families and killed young people,” he said.

He also urged governors to open rehabilitation wards in Level Four hospitals to treat addicts of alcoholism.

Last year, Parliament recommended revision of Kenya’s excise duty on alcoholic beverages, taking into account the alcohol content in the products.

“The government will increase excise duty on spirits and other higher alcohol content products to discourage their consumption, as they pose health risks,” the Finance and Planning Committee said in a report.

Growing competition

And in a bid to fight for the share of the market, EABL announced that it would launch new beer brands in the coming weeks to boost shrinking sales and fight off growing competition.

Charles Ireland, the group managing director, said the Diageo-owned brewer will start producing the series of new drinks aimed at the low-end market, a segment in which the company is facing increased competition from Keroche Breweries and a host of small spirits manufacturers.

More on News