July 22, 2024
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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has temporarily lifted the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets and plastic bottles.  

This decision follows extensive discussions with the House of Representatives, reflecting a response to the current economic downturn. 

 The Deputy spokesperson for the House, Philip Agbese, made the announcement on Friday in Abuja, stating that the sales would continue until the economy recovers. 

Agbese elaborated on the discussions between the House Committee and NAFDAC officials, emphasizing the temporary nature of the ban’s suspension.  

“During the meeting, we all agreed that, at a certain point in history, it is essential to advance alongside our global counterparts.

However, we also concurred with NAFDAC that there would be a temporary lifting of the ban until the economy recovers its strength,” he said.

The House had previously initiated a motion to investigate the activities leading to NAFDAC’s ban on the use and sale of sachet alcoholic beverages.  

The House Committee on NAFDAC, led by Hon. Regina Akume, conducted a thorough investigation and engaged with various stakeholders, including NAFDAC officials, representatives from the organized private sector, and civil society organisations. 

“Resolutions were reached based on submissions from stakeholders, civil society organizations, and other interested parties,” Agbese explained.

“The recommendations presented to parliament included the view that the ban was untimely given the current economic realities.

The five-year moratorium granted by NAFDAC, the impact of COVID-19, and other ongoing economic challenges have made it difficult for industry operators to comply with the terms.”

Following these deliberations, the parliament adopted the House Committee’s report in its entirety.  

Agbese noted that after the final meeting with NAFDAC leadership, led by Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, there was a consensus to suspend the ban in the interest of the nation’s masses and the prevailing economic conditions. 

This decision marks a reversal of the previous stance taken by NAFDAC, which had imposed the ban as part of its regulatory efforts to address health concerns associated with the consumption of alcohol in sachets and plastic bottles.  

The initial ban faced significant opposition from various groups. 

When NAFDAC first announced the prohibition on sachet alcohol and PET bottles, it aimed to curb the widespread abuse and health risks associated with these products.  

The ban, effective from 31 January 2024, targeted the cheap and easily accessible nature of sachet alcohol, which was believed to contribute to excessive alcohol consumption and related health problems. 

However, the ban was met with resistance from multiple quarters.  

Industry operators argued that the ban would lead to substantial economic losses and job cuts in the beverage sector.  

Civil society groups and consumer associations also voiced concerns, citing the economic hardships that would ensue for small-scale retailers and consumers who relied on these affordable options. 

The Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers of Nigeria (ASPWAP) was one of the vocal opponents, arguing that the ban would disproportionately affect small businesses and lead to an increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages.  

They urged NAFDAC to consider the broader economic impact and proposed a phased approach to regulation rather than an outright ban. 

Ultimately, the economic challenges exacerbated by ongoing fiscal pressures have necessitated a reassessment of the policy.  

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