Muscat: Plans are afoot to impose new restrictions on the trade as well as consumption of alcohol in Oman.
Members of the Majlis Al Shura are planning a vote on the issue on June 22 to bring in stricter rules regarding the sale and availability of alcohol. If passed, the proposal will be referred to the Council of Ministers.
A Majlis Al Shura member said, "We will work towards formulating a law that will advocate more restrictions. We feel the easy going attitude towards the consumption and sale of alcohol is not doing any good." The move by Majlis Al Shura's members follows frequent calls from the nationals to ban alcohol in Oman.
"Many citizens have approached us asking for restrictions on easy availability of alcohol. They feel there has been a huge social and health impact due to the consumption of alcohol."
Members are also likely to recommend a ban on alcohol in public places like bars and nightclubs. More restrictions are likely to be imposed on owners of liquor shops besides checks on new shops licenced to sell liquor.
The proposal, moved by the Legal Committee of Majlis Al Shura, will include the amendments mentioned in the Omani Penal Code articles regarding the trade and consumption of alcohol.
The members have plans to urge the authorities to keep a strict tab on the flourishing black market trade in alcohol.
"We will push for harsher penalties on those found selling alcohol in the black market," he said.
It is important to note that according to the latest ROP figures, drinking while driving resulted in 167 road accidents that left 15 dead and many injured.
It is also important to remember that an amount of OMR45 million is being spent annually by the government on an average to treat alcohol related diseases.
Official figures reveal that there has been a four per cent rise in the number of such patients since 2010.
Some of the Majlis Al Shura members who want a complete ban on alcohol in the country are calling for changes in the penal code articles and have urged to criminalise the trade and consumption of alcohol in Oman.
He said efforts must be made to make the availability of alcohol very difficult.
"Many families have faced the brunt of having an alcoholic in the family. Therefore, it is in the interest of families that alcohol laws become stricter in the country," he said.
He also feels once the laws come into effect, youngsters will not be exposed to alcohol.
About whether it will have an impact on tourism, the Majlis Al Shura member feels that "there will not be any significant impact on tourism because tourists mainly come to experience the country."
Doctors in Oman have also been urging the government to start a campaign to combat alcoholism before the problem gets out of control.
It may be recalled that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have completely banned the sale and consumption of alcohol.
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