Cabinet Discusses Alcohol Consumption and Rum-Making Quality Control Concerns

Cabinet Discusses Alcohol Consumption and Rum-Making Quality Control Concerns

The issue of alcohol consumption and its increase among the population was a discussion had in last week’s Cabinet meeting.  We have heard the Police Commissioner say that excess consumption is what leads to many crime cases.  We have also heard the Prime Minister say that he would rather have the legal age be 21, as opposed to the current age, 18.  This week we heard from the Minister of Public Service, Henry Charles Usher, who told Love News that the alcohol discussion was a spin-off from, perhaps an even more serious situation regarding rum-making, and the fact that there is no quality control or standards.

Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “It actually wasn’t tabled it came out of a bigger discussion having to do with the standards for alcohol because I certainly was surprised to learn that there’s no standard for the production of rum for instance meaning that persons or groups or entities selling rum there really is no standard and that’s something that the Bureau of Standards needs to work towards because we can’t be putting in there too much of a certain product that would have deleterious effects on society. So that discussion came out of that. Certainly we have to work closely with NDAC to improve the education about the worry about alcohol abuse, the situation that we’re in right now where alcohol is being abused almost on a daily basis. I was in a discussion later in week about foetal alcohol syndrome where we’re seeing that becoming more prevalent in Belize as well where young babies are born already almost addicted to alcohol and so it’s something that certainly education, health, ministry dealing with standards all of those ministries have to come together, Ministry of Police as well to deal with what happens when there are these situations where alcohol is involved and then crime happens. All these ministries have to come together to work against what we’re seeing is a plague on society right now.”

As it relates to the numerous liquor licenses issued across the country, Minister Usher concedes that they may be excessive, but that there has to be a balance drawn.

Henry Charles Usher, PUP Chairman: “There has to be a balance between giving persons opportunity to have a business but also the number of types of businesses in that particular municipality and it’s up to those different boards to look at that and to come up with a policy to make sure that you really don’t want to stop people from having the opportunity to have a business or to earn a living but at the same time there has to be a policy to make sure there is not too much of these different establishments and it’s by municipality basis. It can’t be a national issue, it has to be done at that local level so that those liquor boards can have the opportunity to do their work, set their policy and we hope that they enforce that policy.”

According to Statista, it is projected that Belize’s revenues from rum would exceed two million US dollars this year.

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