Thursday, 24 April 2014

Nečas: Liquor needs new stamps before hitting the shelves

20 September 2012

Prague, Sept 19 (CTK) - The Czech government is working on the means with which to reopen the market with liquor, Prime Minister Petr Necas said yesterday, adding that first the newly produced liquor should be sold with a new type of stamps.

New alcohol should obtain laboratory tested "birth certificates," Necas (senior government Civic Democrats, ODS)said.

The consumers will learn the exact composition [of the drinks] from the laboratory verified birth certificates, he added.

The decree on new stamps on alcohol will be finished on Thursday, he added.

The State Securities Printing Company should prepare the new stamps by the end of next week.

The batches of the currently stored liquor should be checked and restamped.

"The reopening of the regular market with spirits as soon as possible should be our priority," Necas said.

The government will discuss the steps tonight at its regular meeting after the Chamber of Deputies session.

The new certificates on the product safety for people's health to be introduced by the Health Ministry's extraordinary measure will enable to trace the product in the whole distribution chain to the final seller, Necas said.

Each spirit batch must be clearly identified with a concrete batch of ethanol of which it was made and that was checked in a laboratory.

This measure means nothing new in practice for respectable liquor producers and distributors, Necas said.

Spirits without the "birth certificate" will be qualified as "of unknown origin" and they will have to be withdrawn from the market, He added.

Up to 22 million litres of hard liquor have been withdrawn form the market. Some ten million of them are in the liquor producers' storage facilities, about four million in restaurants and bars, while retailers have three million and the rest is in wholesale, big storage facilities and with importers, Necas said.

Their ethanol batch and methanol content would have to be checked by an accredited laboratory retroactively.

Only then these bottles could be restamped and returned to distribution, Necas added.

Necas yesterday refused to say who would have the right to compensation for losses caused by the ban on liquor sales.

He, however, compared the situation to a natural disaster, that is considered "an act of God," in which the state does not pay any compensation either.

A month of prohibition would cost the state some 0.75 billion crowns, according to estimates.

Necas said in the long run the government envisages modernisation of the stamps so that they were considered official stamps with protected elements.

Such stamps would be more expensive than those issued at present.

The government also wants to establish electronic registration of spirits, Necas said.

Within the plan, each bottle is to be marked with an identification code, he added.

The renewal of licences for alcohol production is also being considered, Necas said.

Necas would like the respective legislative package to be completed and submitted to the Chamber of Deputies by the end of this year.

The state is analysing the work of the customs and inspection authorities so that the general public may know whether they failed, he added.

Necas said politicians were considering unifying the fragmented inspection agendas.

The death toll of methanol poisoning, caused by bootleg alcohol, has reached 23 lives.

Earlier yesterday, President Vaclav Klaus said the introduction of prohibition in the Czech Republic was an unreasonable and exaggerated solution to the spread of bootleg alcohol and it will be difficult to lift it.

Klaus said the state failed in control of the alcohol market and added that he considers the series of deaths a big tragedy.

Necas said the imposition of the prohibition was necessary for the sake of human lives and health.

The measure was taken on Friday evening after a thorough consideration, while Klaus's criticism only came six days later, he added.

($1=19.005 crowns)

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