bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 22.07.2017 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania set to clamp down on alcohol sales, booze buyers’ habits

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

The news from the World Health Organisation (WHO) could not have come worse to all the opponents of the ruling Peasants and Greens Party’s sweeping plans to enforce a lot tougher alcohol consumption regulation in the country.

Lithuanians consume the most alcohol in the world, according to 2016 data presented by Gauden Galea, director of the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Life-course at WHO/Europe, in Vilnius on Tuesday, May 16.

Lithuania on top of WHO stats

According to him, Lithuania’s alcohol consumption last year reached 16 litres per capita.

«The newest calculations put Lithuania on top (in alcohol consumption) in Europe and moreover: at the level, it is a top drinker in the world,» the WHO representative told local reporters.

Over the last couple of weeks, Lithuania has been on edge with the tougher booze law supporters squabbling with the liberal-minded – in the realm of the internet, at Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) and on the streets.

The heated deliberations have little mitigated the law amenders’ moxie to clamp down on alcohol consumption in the country in the forms booze is available until now.

The compilation of the latest law draft, released by Seimas’ Health Committee on Wednesday, May 17, envisions ban on alcoholic beverage sale, among other spots, in temporary outdoor summer pavilions, beach patios. Initially, the ban was proposed to go into force right after the vote later this month, but, with a huge backlash from the industry and café owners on the Baltic coast, the legislators have backtracked a little, putting off enactment of the amendment until 2020.

Stringent new law provisions

The latest draft envisions toughened procedures in obtaining alcohol sale licenses – most of the time, local municipalities would be liable for the issuance. Firms applying for fixed-term alcohol licenses would be subject to especially strict scrutiny and, even granted such license, they would be barred from selling beverages containing more than 7.5 per cent of alcohol. Importantly, all booze sellers under the altered law will be stripped of right of selling alcohol in free events and gatherings.

In other words, if you enjoyed the frenzy of, say, Sea Festival in Klaipėda, the Lithuanian seaport, and the beer it was offering from the make-shift vendor stalls right in the city’s key public squares, now just forget it – the Peasants and Greens want to wipe out any alcohol sales from such type of festivals.

Meanwhile, in pay-fee events, licenses to sell alcoholic drinks will be issued only for their duration.

The parliamentary Health Committee has approved the legislative provision envisioning that alcoholic beverages are sold in supermarkets and shops only from 10 am until 8 pm (now the hours are from 8 am to 10 pm). On Sundays, alcohol would be available only from 10 am until 3 pm. Again – if the propositions make their way to the letter of law.

The Committee also wants to increase the age limit to purchase alcohol from 18 to 20 years.

Already starting next year, any alcohol advertising will be banned, according the draft law. A few exemptions are foreseen in it, however.

Yet even with them, alcohol advertisements on local TV stations should be swept out, experts say. Until now, this kind of advertising was allowed from 11 pm until 6 am. Some of the administrative penalties for Alcohol law infringements are to be toughened, too.

The Lithuanian Parliamentarians are expected to vote on the Health Committee’s draft on May 23.

Specialised booze shops in horizon

However, some changes – perhaps to a tougher variant of law – are possible, with Ramūnas Karbauskis, the leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, calling on the government to draft legal acts by mid-2018 that would pave way for specialized alcohol stores in the country.

Karbauskis has registered a relevant draft resolution, suggesting that the Cabinet should prepare bills by July 1 of 2017 for opening of specialized alcohol stores and specify procedures for such alcohol trade licenses.

In his words, the proposal comes in light of the fact that the amendments to the Alcohol Control Law currently discussed in parliament and other legal acts only cover the first phase of the reduction of damages caused to the society by alcohol consumption.

Last December, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said that specialized alcohol stores could open in 2018, with the number of such stores established by the population numbers.

During the campaign before the 2016 elections, LFGU pledged to introduce a state monopoly on alcohol trade, however, later gave up the proposal.

Opposition wants to scarp irrational proposals

Meanwhile, the opposition Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats proposes that the parliament temporarily suspend debates on a controversial package aimed at sharply reducing access to alcohol until political groups in the Seimas reach consensus and muster enough votes to pass the legislation.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, May 16, Gabrielius Landsbergis, the conservative party’s leader, called for debates on the draft amendments to the Law on Alcohol Control to be put on hold and for irrational proposals to be scrapped.

«The draft amendments presented by the (parliament’s) Committee on Health Affairs and the government are disappointing and surprising. Amendments to the law must be based on a clear logic as to what is to be achieved: to reduce alcohol availability, eliminate alcohol advertising and reduce alcohol affordability,» Landsbergis said.«Availability will only be reduced by shortening alcohol sale hours; other measures, such as a ban on selling alcohol in outdoor cafes or during mass events, are just a misunderstanding that will bring no real benefit and will target the wrong group of society,» he added.

A pan-Baltic effort

The amendments to the Law on Alcohol, currently under debate in the Seimas, have provoked a public outcry. Festival organizers and musicians staged a concert outside the parliament building in Vilnius on Tuesday, May 16, to protest against the ruling coalition’s plans to restrict alcohol sales during free public events. Companies say that the proposed ban on selling alcohol in outdoor cafes will ruin their business.

Yet it seems, however, that the resolve to curb alcohol consumption has spread beyond the Lithuanian border – Latvia and Estonia have said they also mull similar Alcohol law amendments.

On May 16, the Baltic health ministries at a meeting in Vilnius agreed on common plans for developing alcohol, tobacco and healthy eating policies.

The memorandum of understanding on the issues is expected to be signed on June 16, when the health ministers of the Baltic countries will meet within the framework of the meeting of the European Union Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council.

Excise tax hike did not work

But Swedbank Lithuania’s chief economist Nerijus Mačiulis claims amid the outcry that a major increase in excise duties on alcoholic drinks that took effect in Lithuania in early March has had no major impact on the country’s alcohol market.

«Fears that the excise tax hike will lead to a decrease in consumption proved to be unfounded. On the other hand, this means that the shadow economy did not increase, which was in line with expectations,» he said.

Based on figures from the State Tax Inspectorate, the total amount of declared alcohol excise duties for the first four months of this year soared by 45.9 percent year-on-year to 110.569 million euros. Some 75.279 million euros, or 68.1 percent of the total amount, was declared in February.

According to Mačiulis, the increase in wholesale alcohol sales indicates that demand for alcoholic drinks among retail consumers did not decline.

«Affordability has risen sharply over the past ten years. So, even after the excise duty hike, this did not become a problem. Higher sales for the four months signal that consumption is not falling, even given that Lithuania’s population shrank by 30,000 over the year,» the economist said.

How do the prudes behave in foreign resorts?

Speaking to BNN, Evalda Šiškauskienė, president of Lithuania’s Hotels and Restaurant Association, said that, with the new law provisions in force, around 45 seasonal outdoor cafes will be forced out of business.

«The situation in that regard will be even worse on the Lithuanian seaside, where this type of facilities are bread and butter for many local businessmen. In fact, the seaside is the «culprit» – namely it has prompted all the parliamentary discussions and, later on, prohibitions on outdoor alcohol sales,» she said.

Meanwhile, Artūras Timukas, owner of Devintam danguje restaurant in the Baltic resort of Palanga, did not conceal his disappointment with the MPs’ legislative propositions when talking to BNN.

«I run two beach pavilions in summer. The new Alcohol law restrictions will severely affect not only them, but also another four business spots I manage in Palanga. For me, it is very weird to listen to the approach by our lawmakers – I mean that no one can sip beer on the beach. I really would like to know whether all the prudes who stand for the amendments crippling my and many others’ businesses here drink only soft drinks on vacation in foreign resorts? And do they get involved in sports and other activities there?» Timukas asked rhetorically. He added: «I don’t think that bans can change anything. Already now I often see people on their way to the beach carrying large plastic bags full of alcoholic beverages. Who will tackle them? The army of this type of holiday makers will just increase.»

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4591


Leave a reply

Fashion in business: how to be heard in the modern-day world?

It would seem that nowadays strict fashion trends have «died». This is because people for ways to look beautiful and comfortable. One of the minds behind TRÉS fashion line, Enija Mugurevica shares advice how to start a business in the fashion industry from scratch and be heard and noticed in the modern-day world.

FCMC fines Norvik Banka for EUR 1.3 million and Rietumu Banka for EUR 1.56 million

Finance and Capital Market Commission in cooperation with Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Counterproliferation Center found out in a target inspection that Latvian banks – Norvik Banka and Rietumu Banka – have not followed requirements of regulations for the prevention of money laundering and terrorism funding.

Saeima approves controversial amendments to Credit Institutions Law

On Friday, 21 July, Latvian Saeima approved amendments to the Credit Institutions Law, which were previously returned to the parliament for a repeated viewing by President Raimonds Vejonis, completely unchanged.

Bank of Latvia: tax reform is a disappointment; it will not improve competitiveness

The tax reform submitted to the Saeima for approval is one big disappointment that will not improve competitiveness, said head of the Monetary Policy Office of the Bank of Latvia Uldis Rutkaste in an interview to LNT 900 seconds.

Betsafe predicts: will Duklavs remain Latvia’s Agriculture Minister?

Although Unity has asked the Union of Greens and Farmers to replace Agriculture Minister Janis Duklavs with someone else after the scandalous oligarch talks in Ridzene hotel, Duklavs will likely keep his post, according to Betsafe bookmakers. There is a 33% probability of Duklavs losing his post.

Latvian alcohol industry has an offer to increase excise tax rate

Experience shows – rapid increase of excise tax results in rapid increase of prices and rapid decline of revenue for the state treasury. Based on careful calculations, Latvian Alcohol Industry Association asks the government to stick with the current excise tax increase plan.

Air temperature to reach +24° C… +25° C in Latvia on weekend

Weather is expected to be largely dry this weekend in Latvia. Next week, however, is expected to be rainy, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Saeima deputies sign agreement on Oligarch talks committee’s formation

So far only parliament members have signed the agreement on the formation of a Saeima committee for the investigation of Oligarch talks. Neither of them represents Unity – Karlis Serzants from Union of Greens and Farmers and Einars Cilinskis from VL-TB/LNNK.

Seaima Praesidium approves parliamentary budget for 2018

On 20 July, Saeima Praesidium approved the parliament’s budget request for 2018. It is planned to be EUR 22.04 million, setting funding to maintain current functions on the level of 2017, BNN was informed by Saeima press-service.

Beer brewers: fooling around with tax reforms could destroy Latvia’s beer industry

By increasing excise tax for beer, the goal of reducing alcohol consumption will not be achieved. This is because consumption of other alcoholic beverages will increase as a result, notes CEO of Latvian Breweries Union Peteris Linins, commenting on the government’s plans to raise excise tax for beer.

4,558 marriages registered in Latvia in first six months of 2017

Over the past three years, Latvian birth number almost has not changed and constitutes 22 thousand annually. 10,175 children were born in the first half of 2017, which means 990 newborn fewer than in the same period a year ago.

Broadcasting organizations ask NEPLP to stop meddling with public media contents

The board of Latvian Association of Broadcasting Organizations urges the government and National Electronic Mass Media Council to continue realizing reforms in public media.

Kucinskis also met with Slesers in the infamous meeting room of Ridzene hotel

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis admits having met with Ainars Slesers in the now infamous meeting room in Ridzene hotel a couple of times, specifically when the People’s Party made the decision to join Par labu Latviju.

Pumpurs hands 99% of Užavas alus capital shares to his son

Ildis Pumpurs, up until now the only owner and board member of Ventspils Užavas alus brewery, has handed 99% of the company’s capital shares to his son Oskars Pumpurs.

Repeated elections in Kekava – activity twice as high so far

Repeated election has commenced in Kekava’s 785 election site. 274 voters or 7% of local voting population took part in elections in the first day, according to data from the election site.

Estonia plans accepting from Turkey 160 Syrian refugees

Estonian police are looking into the documents on 160 refugees from Syria that are to be moved to Estonia in line with an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey.

Experts: potato harvest in Latvia may come later than usual this year

Potato harvest in Latvia may come one week later than usual. Still, the harvest is expected to be on the level of last year, BNN was told by Potato Growers and Processors Union.

News feed to be added to Google's website and mobile app

Internet search giant Google has said it would add a continuous feed of news and other content to its homepage and mobile app, which would be displayed before a user makes a search query.

NATO and Chinese ships perform joint manoeuvrer before entering Baltic Sea

This week, Standing NATO Maritime Group One welcomed in international a group of Chinese Navy ships that entered the Baltic Sea through the Strait of Denmark from the North Sea. Ships of both groups performed a mutually coordinated manoeuvrer for the ships to ensure safe entry of ships into the Baltic Sea, as reported by Latvian Defence Ministry.

Russia distances itself from proclamation of «Malorossiya» in eastern Ukraine

The Kremlin has noted that the proclamation of a county entitled «Malorossiya», or «Little Russia» in the pro-Kremlin-separatist-held eastern parts of Ukraine is a personal initiative of the rebel leader.

Expert: oil prices will likely remain zigzag-like

Aside from one week, oil reserves have been continuously declining since April. This trend will likely continue. Oil refining activities were not too high. This reduced demand for oil. In Q3, oil producers will increase production output and compound stores, comments macroeconomics expert Dainis Gaspuitis.

Construction output in Q1 in Latvia – tenth largest in EU

In Latvia, construction production volume in Q1 2017, when compared with the same period of last year, grew 8.4%. This puts Latvia on the tenth place among EU member states, according to the latest data from Eurostat.

Pabriks invites Estonia to focus on protecting Europe’s borders during presidency

MEP from Latvia Artis Pabriks invites Estonia as the presiding country in the European Council to focus on the protection of Europe’s borders and help motivate other member states to follow through with their objectives.

Contract signed for 60 million euros loan for Rīgas satiksme

Nordic Investment Bank and Riga municipality’s company Rīgas satiksme have signed a contract for the allocation of a loan worth 60 million euros. Funding is intended to be used to purchase hydrogen-powered buses and low-floor trams, as well as investments into tram infrastructure.

Household expenditure on consumption exceeds pre-crisis levels in Latvia

In 2016, household consumption expenditure comprised on average EUR 333 per household member monthly – EUR 17 or 5.4 % more than in 2015.

Do you have an acquaintance currently looking for a job?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Polls Archive



Category feed: Feed: