Government to take lead in facilitating alcohol policy

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, February 17, 2011

A REVIEW on alcohol licence and law reforms will chart the way forward with the support of the government led by acting chief secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc, says Law and Justice Sector director Joe Kanekane at the closing of a three-day symposium on alcohol abuse yesterday.
He said a working group would be announced by Zurenuoc later during the week once all recommendations had been compiled and deliberated on by organisers and stakeholders who had contributed their ideas and views to curb the level of alcohol abuse.
“Throughout the week we have been playing the ‘blame syndrome’ which is not a proper term but it is simply to say we have been pointing fingers at each other, and it was about time we stop and do something about the issue,” he said.
He acknowledged the government for taking the lead in this initiative and admitting that alcohol abuse was a problem that was here to stay.
“It is a slow but steadfast move by the government but it is a good start and we expect a positive outcome from this symposium,” he said.
The working group would work towards completing the recommendations that had been put together by participants from the government, business, churches and the non-governmental organisations at the final day of the symposium and had a score card explaining to stakeholders on their next meet in April in Goroka.
By mid August, they should present the alcohol policy and have it reviewed at another symposium next February.
Meanwhile, Justice and Attorney-General secretary Dr Lawrence Kalinoe in closing the symposium, highlighted that alcohol and substance abuse was real and a major threat in the community.
“We have to immediately arrest the situation and turn it around; if we do not do anything, it will destroy our nation and there will be no value to the government’s Vision 2050 statements,” he said.
The public private partnership effort on the symposium ended with recommendations of having a task force set up, regional symposiums on alcohol abuse, have realistic timeline s to maintain momentum of the policy, offer specialised courses at university level for health, teacher education, conduct further research in regions and have creative awareness mechanisms in place to start addressing the problem.