ZAMBIA – The Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) has backed Zambian Breweries Plc efforts to stop illicit unregulated alcohol that is denying the nation more than US$100 million in unpaid annual taxes and duties.

Unregulated and illicit alcohol in the country has had far reaching effects contributing to loss of revenue and moral degradation especially amongst the youths in the country.

Jose Moran, Zambian Breweries Country Director hailed EAZ  efforts in spearheading the fast forward move in the country’s economy by drawing attention to issues and challenges affecting Zambia’s economy.

“Zambian Breweries is a big tax payer and we are here to create wealth for all Zambians, and I believe we are here to stay for a hundred years more.

We are very hopeful that our relationship with EAZ will help foster a vibrant economy through tackling challenges involving the beer industry, such as illicit alcohol and policies,” Moran said.

According to a study conducted in 2017 in Zambia, about 69% of the alcohol on the market is smuggled or illegally produced subsequently implicating on the government’s revenues.

Mr Moran added that apart from inducing unethical competition in the beverage sector, unregulated alcohol also implicates on the health of minors.

“Illicit alcohol is something that we see as a problem as we see it as unethical competition. It is very cheap and very harmful to people.

When we go into the communities, we see that a lot of minors consume and abuse this alcohol,” he said.

Dr Lubinda Haabazoka, EAZ President, hailed the company’s commitment and contribution towards ensuring a vibrant economy.

“Illicit alcohol is something government should tackle immediately. We cannot be losing over US$100 million just through illegal brewing and selling of counterfeit and smuggled alcohol.

Not only does government lose revenue but it also loses healthy citizens who can contribute to national socio-economic development,” he said.

EAZ and Zambian Breweries will work together to bring awareness on the dangers of drinking and trading of smuggled illicit alcohol.

“As an association we will tighten up and enhance awareness of the illegal trade and production of alcohol so that it is curtailed by the relevant bodies,” Dr Haabazoka said.

Zambian Breweries Plc is a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

Established in 1968 the brewer has grown its product portfolio to include clear beers such as Mosi Lager, Castle, Carling Black Label, Eagle beer, Stella Artois and Budweiser.