Morocco: Wine producers strike back on anti-alcohol bill
(ANSAmed) – RABAT, 13 JUNE – The draft bill registered in Parliament by 14 MPs belonging to PJD has already prompted some reactions. The draft bill provides for a ban on any form of direct and indirect advertising regarding alcoholic drinks and includes new forms of censorship and the ban on events and exhibitions containing alcoholic drinks. Moroccan wine-producers joined tourism operators and wrote a letter to the Parliament’s Chairman, Karim Ghellab, to the chairmen of parliamentary groups and to the Head of the Government, Abdelilah Benkirane; the letter was signed by the National Tourism Federation (NTF), by the National Federation of Restaurant Owners (FNR), by the National Federation of the Hotel industry (FNIH) and by the National Federation of travel Agents (FNAVM). As reported by Les Echos, the authors of the letter suggest starting an in-depth bi-partisan debate and asking the opinion of professionals and experts in order to “assess the impact of suggested measures on the sectors we represent”. The signatories make reference to the promises regarding openness, tolerance and respect of personal freedom made by Benkirane and maintain that opening a dialogue would reflect “what the head of the government promoted during last autumn’s electoral campaign”.
The “new lobby”‘s arguments are mainly based on preserving the nation’s wine-growing and tourism industry, a sector which is already struggling with the financial crisis affecting the tourists’countries of origin. According to the operators’ estimate, the sector would lose a further share of its appeal is such a law were to be passed.
Besides, the bill proposed by the PJD “contradicts its own declared goal of protecting public interests”, because, far from generating the desired results, the bill would strengthen the informal sector, since consumers will not be able to tell “formal” from “informal alcohol drinks. This would infringe safety and security healthcare legislation.
Rather than a ban on all advertising, the priority should be to implement “actual awareness-raising programs and plans aimed at tackling alcoholism-related healthcare issues”. Therefore, a legislation providing for better safeguarding of underage people, improved state healthcare and enhancement of fight against smuggling would be welcome. (ANSAmed).