Liquor manufacturers and distributors, and restaurant entrepreneurs have urged the government to amend the current Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act 1993 — that has strictly prohibited 'drunk driving' without fixing the minimum limit — as the current Act has hit the liquor business.
The current movement of Traffic Police against drunk driving is good, but it has to be amended according to international standards, they said, adding that the current drive has hit liquor sales as the Act has not fixed a minimum limit, as is the international practice.
"We are planning to hold discussions with concerned authorities including the Traffic Police on the proposed draft," said president of Restaurant and Bar Association Nepal Tejendra Nath Shrestha, adding that a person will be allowed to consume up to 120ml of liquor and two bottles of beer, according to the proposed draft. "If anyone drinks above the minimum limit and drives, the Traffic Police should fine them."
Internationally, drunk driving has a minimum limit that varies from country to country. "In the US, one can drink 80ml and drive, whereas the minimum consumption limit is 50ml in Germany, and 60ml in Australia," Shrestha added. "Likewise, India has fixed a minimum consumption limit of 30ml."
The Rs 11.70 billion worth domestic liquor industry is not only a business in Nepal, he said, adding that it also holds cultural importance in every occasion from birth to death depending on the community. "The amendment will not only support the current drive against drunk driving but also help industries grow," said the association's general secretary Pramod Kumar Jaisawal.
According to the Nepal Liquor Manufacturers’ Association, the country manufactures liquor worth Rs 11.70 billion, whereas liquor worth some Rs four billion is imported annually.
"The current drive against drunk driving is positive socially as it has reduced fatal road accidents of late, but the government must think economically too and find a win-win solution for both manufacturers and the government," according to Nepal Liquor Manufacturers’ Association.
The drop in sales by around 30 per cent to 40 per cent has also hit revenue mobilisation, it said, adding that the government failed to meet its excise duty and VAT mobilisation target also due to low consumption of liquor of late.
KATHMANDU: Industrial Promotion Board, last week, formed a committee under a joint secretary to revise the old standards of issuing licence to liquor industry and update it taking stock of various changed contexts including environmental, social, prospectus of foreign direct investment and flow of investment from productive sectors to unproductive sector, before issuing the licence. "Some 110 applicants — including leading business houses — have applied for licences to open new liquor factories at the Department of Industry promising more than Rs 18 billion investment," the department — that has sent the applications to the board for approval — said, adding that the number of liquor companies will increase as the government had three months back decided to issue licence to new liquor manufacturers, after a 11-year old ban on liquor licence. The government had, in October 2001, decided to stop providing licence to new liquor manufacturers. The department data revealed that only 10 — out of 15 big and medium-sized liquor factories registered with the department — are in operation currently.