Tuesday, October 19, 2021

El-Halabi defends Khama’s booze levy strongly at PAC

The use of alcohol levy proceeds are used to the initial intended course, the Public Accounts Committee learnt on Friday as suggestions of misuse were flown about by some politicians .

The brainchild of President Ian Khama, alcohol levy is intended to stem the tide of alcohol abuse with the price of alcohol beverages increased periodically at the instructions of Khama.

Appearing before the PAC members, the Permanent Secretary with the Ministry of Health and Wellness Shenaz El-Halabi, however, dismissed the suggestions, stating the levy was put to good course citing the two identified sites to be refurbished the coming financial year to host the affected persons from substance abuse.

“Training, mentoring and nurturing of the affected persons will be taking place there against substance abuse including the escalating illegal drugs and alcohol indulgence,” El-Halabi said.

The identified sites are in Serowe and Francistown, with the Old Serowe Hospital requiring only refurbishment as is the site in Francistown the next financial year to become rehabilitation centres.

PAC Member Bogolo Kenewendo doubted the Ministry’s commitment at addressing the fate of alcohol and drugs related implications, questioning the initial intended course of action of the alcohol levy to its abuse including illegal drugs.

El-Halabi cited the BOSASnet non-governmental organisation committed to providing substance abuse education training, prevention and rehabilitation services.

Formed in 2008, the organisation operates an outpatient counselling rehabilitation centre in Gaborone, which provides specialised counselling to individuals and families dealing with issues related to substance abuse and dependency. 

The services that the organisation offers include workshops for schools and other organisations on substance use, abuse and dependency.

The NGO is also involved in training of qualified individuals in organisations to carry out substance abuse screening and assessment.

El-Halabi promised better information over the refurbishment project the next session.

The money accrued from the levy is viewed suspiciously by some quarters especially the opposition parties who are convinced the proceeds could be diverted to secretly fund the campaigns and operations of the ruling party.

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