In Brief

Bar owners call for sobriety in war on illicit drinks

Bar owners have asked the national and county governments to consult widely and adhere to the principles of a free-market economy as it intensifies crackdown on illicit drinks in the country.

The National Bar Owners Association said the governments need to find a balance between addressing a social concern and maintaining a business-friendly environment that encourages investment and job creation.

“A unilateral approach to this menace will mean that there will be a proliferation of illegal trade thereby denying the government its fair share of revenue in form of taxes,” said Boniface Gachoka, the association’s secretary-general.

“The problem in alcohol abuse begins with the easy availability of illicit alcohol in the market, much of it the product of suspicious manufacturers,” said Mr Gachoka.

The association said that despite communique issued in Nyeri, the harassment of bar and liquor traders has continued in Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu and Laikipia through arbitrary and unfair arrests on the pretext that they are operating beyond hours.

The association said the proposal to limit the number of alcoholic outlets per area amounts to the government interfering with the operations of legible investors who should be allowed to set up their businesses and then compete in an open market for customers.

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