Our policy makers seem confused about what they ought to do about alcohol, aware of the problems it causes, but helpless when it comes to crafting policies that work against it.
Unlike the legislation the parliamentarians worked on with unusual promptness against tobacco, perhaps inspired by religion and fanned by its beliefs, the same cannot be said about alcohol.
Although religious texts speak against it through stories with morals, they fall far short when matched with the popularity of the country’s favourite divine madman, the saint who seeks booze and, of course, women.
All those passionate deliberations at Parliament, raising issues of all social ills that alcohol is the cause of, and the National Assembly speaker’s unyielding stance on disallowing any new licenses for new breweries is eventually diluted with the inclusion of a figure.
Wherever that eight percent mark came from to allow breweries that fell within or below that alcohol content.
It is just as risible how some of our supposedly best minds that constitute the legislature, and the civil service that implement the laws the former makes, have settled for the logic that breweries producing liquor within and below eight percent do less harm to the society.
It was not long ago, when the government banned production of locally brewed alcohol (ara) in the villages across the country, because it was the cause of all health and other social problems.
To some, it was a source of income, as they sold the brew; unlike today, where they have to buy liquor from the shops that come with a steep tax.
Now isn’t that something like the authorities snatching bread away from peasants’ mouths, and giving them to a handful of profit-driven private individuals?
It is not to say that villagers should be allowed to brew their own liquor, but the logic sounds a little off that they be still supplied with it through a few breweries the government will allow.
In a similar vein, the argument that export of alcohol generates the country big revenue sounds just as off, when the health system spends much more in referral cost to treat patients abroad, suffering from alcohol-related diseases.
Alcohol also fuels stunning rates of domestic violence and crime.
Families lose father or mother to cirrhosis, and a son gets stabbed and killed in a knife fight.
Fewer the breweries and liquor stores, the lesser the drinking, and as fewer alcohol-related crimes, so studies have confirmed.
Obviously it would work against young people to start on the road to alcoholism, if there were fewer breweries in the country.