Sachet spirits are not illegal- Malawi Alcohol Manufacturers

As calls to ban sachet spirits takes toll, the Alcohol Manufacturers Association of Malawi (AMAM) has refuted claims that alcohol packaged in sachets is made from cheaper unapproved ingredients.

AMAM has also contended that it is only the sachet spirit that have warnings labelled on their package about alcohol abuse and restricting the sale to minors while the other brands do not have any such labelling on their packages.

Young man enjoying liquor  satchet
Young man enjoying liquor satchet

This follows stepped up campaign by the Young Achievers for Development (YAD) against production of sachet spirits in the country. YAD is also planning to petition the Nation Assembly on the same.

But AMAM said in a statement that manufacturers of alcohol packed in sachets comply with the requirements spelled our in the Malawi Companies Act, apart from meeting the standards set up by the Malawi Bureau of Standards.

“It is true that alcohol in sachets is cheaper. This is because of their size and efficient usage of the packaging material.

“The truth is that all the locally produced alcohol beverages use Potable Ethanol from Ethco (Ethanol Company) in Dwangwa and from few distilleries in Southern Africa,” says AMAM.

Sachet spirits, according to AMAM, attracts 250% excise tax plus Value Added Tax (VAT), a lot a higher than any other alcohol beverage.

“Thus, though sachet spirit consumption is low compared other alcoholic drinks, the net effect on tax collection per unit sale is much higher.

“The spirits in sachets also helps the Ethanol company to sell their potable ethanol at a higher rate that any other distillery in the Southern Africa region thu supporting the economy and creating jobs,” says the statement.

AMAM also says restricting the package of would create “undue advantage” in the market for some kinds of alcohol drinks like beer and opaque beer.

The market, says AMAM,  will not be balanced and encourage spirit consumers to go back to the illegal brews like  ‘Kachasu’ which is said to be lethal to consumers’ health.

AMAM has since suggested for creation of a comprehensive policy by involving all stakeholders to restrict the sale of alcohol to minors, and in or near school zones.

The policy should also address the sale of alcohol along the highways by moving drinking joints away from the main roads and highways by about 50 meters or more ways, suggests AMAM.

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