Draft Liquor Amendment Bill is unconstitutional: Free Market Foundation

Photo: Moeketsi Mogotsi

The Free Market Foundation has issued a statement on behalf of several organisations indicating that the proposed draft Liquor Amendment Bill is unconstitutional. The group made a joint submission to the Department of Trade and Industry on the draft bill. Organisations involved were among others the FMF, AHI, and Nafcoc – on behalf of nine regional sectors, Rasa and Salta. The group said it does not matter how skilfully the bill’s unconstitutionality is disguised, it remains fundamentally unconstitutional and should be scrapped in full.

The Foundation said it was pointed out, for instance, that the provisions governing where liquor can be traded lawfully, effectively declare the entire country a prohibited area. The group also indicated that there is no reason to believe that anything proposed in the draft bill will be effective and that it is a product of public consultations in bad faith. The FMF has urged the government that all South Africans are in need of a more sensible liquor policy. The FMF is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, which promotes sound economic policies and the principles of good law.

In the meantime the Department of Trade and Industry has extended the deadline for written public comments on the draft bill to 15 December 2016. In a statement, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, said the extension was the result of consultative sessions with the Parliament oversight committee on trade and industry and the South African Liquor Brandowners Association. “We are happy that the extension will afford all of the stakeholders and members of the public at large more time to share their ideas and proposals with us on the bill,” said Davies.

Last week the oversight committee unanimously supported the liquor policy. The committee held that the policy is important and would contribute towards responsible drinking. The National Liquor Amendment Bill 2016 was published on 30 September 2016, Government Gazette No. 40319, for broader public consultation. The closing date for the submission of comments was extended to 15 November 2016 and again to 30 November 2016. The new date is 15 December 2016.

André Grobler