Ministry of Home Affairs welcomes liquor industry's support of alcohol law

Police officers handing out pamphlets at Robertson Quay on Wednesday. The Ministry of Home Affairs has welcomed initiatives by the liquor industry in support of the new alcohol law which kicked in on Wednesday. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM 
Police officers handing out pamphlets at Robertson Quay on Wednesday. The Ministry of Home Affairs has welcomed initiatives by the liquor industry in support of the new alcohol law which kicked in on Wednesday. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM 

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has welcomed initiatives by the liquor industry in support of the new alcohol law which kicked in on Wednesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, an MHA spokesman said: "The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) welcomes the initiatives introduced by the liquor industry in support of the Liquor Control (Supply & Consumption) Act."

"MHA had recently shared with industry members at an engagement session, the considerations for assessing applications for extension of retail sale."

He added that the ministry will continue to "engage stakeholders" and closely monitor the implementation of the new law.

Under the Liquor Control (Supply and Consumption) Act, the drinking of alcohol is not allowed in all public places from 10.30pm to 7am.

Retail outlets such as convenience stores or supermarkets are also barred from selling takeaway alcohol during the same hours. Stricter rules apply in Geylang and Little India as they are designated Liquor Control Zones.

A press release issued by several beverage-alcohol retailers and manufacturers on Wednesday said the industry "reaffirms its commitment to facilitate an ecosystem of liquor sale and consumption that does not compromise the effectiveness of the restriction to consume liquor in public places ... by implementing its six-point programme, in phases".

But the industry players also sought "greater clarity in understanding the operational conditions under which extension (of retail hours) can be achieved".

"Such clarity underpins the business sustainability of retailers, particularly franchisees', who estimate that up to 40 per cent of their business could be impacted due to the restricted retail sale hours for beverage-alcohol products," they said.

The statement added that some have voiced the risk of their operations closing down.

The industry players said they will seek to obtain retail sale-hour extensions, "on the merit of targeted stores and suggest conditions under which responsible retailers can obtain an extension."

They also called on the authorities to "urgently confirm the conditional framework for retail liquor sale-hour extension."

The beverage-alcohol retailers which issued the statement are 7-Eleven, Cold Storage, Giant, Cheers Holdings and NTUC FairPrice.

The manufacturers are Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore, Heineken Asia Pacific, Carlsberg Singapore and the Wine and Spirits Committee of the European Chamber of Commerce, which comprises Diageo, Bacardi-Martini, Moet Hennessy Diageo Singapore, Pernod Ricard and Remy Cointreau.

The six-point industry programme aims to:

- Train and certify all retail store managers on responsible sale of alcohol (RSA) within the first 12 months of the law coming into effect.

- Mandate RSA in retailers' internal audit processes.

- Work with the police to identify problem hot spots & introduce responsible measures at targeted stores.

- Prominently display Industry-led communication at stores as deterrent to alert the public to new liquor restrictions and penalties.

- Leverage in-store CCTV monitoring to identify and deter errant consumers.

- Volunteer suspension of liquor retail sale license for an agreed period of time if an offence on public liquor consumption is traced back to the retail store that failed to undertake and practice RSA and deterrent communication to consumers.