The West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association (WIRSPA) last week announced the launch of an initiative to promote responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.
In a statement on Friday, the grouping “strongly condemned” alcohol abuse and a pledge was made to lend support to efforts that address these issues. WIRSPA said that it is committed to doing so as an “industry and in collaboration with other producers of alcoholic beverages.”
According to Komal Samaroo, Chairman of WIRSPA and of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL), “There is an urgent need for us to build a culture of responsibility in our communities. We are committed to providing leadership to build a strong coalition of producers, state agencies, and civil society advocates to work to achieve this transformation in the shortest possible time.”
Samaroo further stated that “while we as individual producers are active at the national level in supporting efforts to reduce harmful drinking, as a group we intend to intensify these efforts starting in 2018. In this regard we have established a task force to look at a range of issues including labelling, advertising and promotion, and online marketing, incorporating international best practices. We will also encourage and support actions to reduce driving under the influence of alcohol and drinking by underage and vulnerable persons.”
In recent years the local rum industry has come in for criticism for not taking action to confront the alcohol abuse problem that is clearly evident in Guyana. (See other story on centre pages.)
The WIRSPA statement acknowledged the impact of inappropriate consumption on individuals and society of a range of alcoholic beverages.
“We believe, and current regulatory advice maintains, that responsible drinking remains a valued and enjoyable part of life in a modern society. Notwithstanding, we cannot ignore the negative impact on our societies caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol.”
The statement committed WIRSPA to a collaborative approach in the regional industry to achieve the objective.
“We will seek to broaden the involvement of all producers, distributors and retailers of alcohol beverages so as to achieve the fullest impact from these commitments and we will engage stakeholders on these issues to ensure that our engagements are meaningful and credible”, it said.
Making reference to DDL and the local market specifically, Samaroo said that Demerara Distillers will be embarking on an initiative to revive the local alcoholic beverages association.
“We will need to put aside our competitive marketing interests”, he said, “and work together in pursuit of the greater good for Guyana.”
DDL, he said, plans to engage government and non-state stakeholders to determine how the industry can best contribute in practical ways, to the implementation of policies and actions to ameliorate the impact of harmful consumption.
WIRSPA represents rum producers in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Haiti, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.