The government has followed up a blanket ban on pornography by moving to control sales, consumption and production of alcohol, which it thinks are the main causes behind growing crime and rape cases.
Sources at the Home Ministry said that the draft of a new regulation on alcoholic beverage control is expected to be tabled at the Cabinet for approval next week.
Proposal includes capping the new licence to liquor manufacturing companies, imposing a blanket ban on the advertisement and restricting sales licence to liquor shops.
“We think the alcohol business has gone rampant and liquor shops have been creating new drinkers. It has been increasing crime and rape cases,” said a high-level source at the ministry, who wished to remain anonymous.
This is not the first time. Two years ago, the government had enforced the National Policy on Regulation and Control of Alcohol 2017, barring a pictorial warning that depicts liver cirrhosis and effects on other organs, covering at least 75 percent of the bottle. Under the rules, a statutory warning “Drinking is injurious to health” should be prominently displayed on the bottle. The law also bars people under the age of 21 years and pregnant women from purchasing alcoholic drinks and government institutions from hosting events with alcoholic beverages. The rules also bar displaying advertisement in print or other digital media.
It has also listed restricted areas for sales, including public places, schools and colleges, religious and other historical sites. “But, the rules have not been implemented,” said the official. “So, we decided to introduce regulatory measures this time.”
The new regulation will allow up to five liquor shops in a single ward, he said.
Officials at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, which issues the alcoholic beverage licence, said that a few weeks ago, the Home Ministry had consulted with them on the draft.
“We also suggested enforcing effective regulations without hampering the existing manufacturing companies,” said officials at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies.
According to the Federation of Liquor Associations of Nepal, 57 distilleries and nine breweries have received operating licences as of now.
Santosh Pandey, past president of the federation, however criticised the government’s move. He said that if the new law is endorsed, it will give rise to cartel in the liquor firms as there won’t be market competition at all. “The ban is not rational.”
According to the Health Ministry, at least 17.8 percent of the total population has a habit of drinking on a daily basis, while around 2 percent consume alcohol in harmful ways. A survey conducted in 2013 by the Nepal Health Research Council showed men were more likely to drink.