The age limit to legally buy or consume alcohol is to be raised to 18 under a new Liquor Licences Bill, lawmakers in the House of Assembly agreed Tuesday.
Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds told the House of Assembly that anyone caught selling alcohol to those under 18 or encouraging them to become involved in the business of selling liquor could be charged and fined up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
Symmonds explained: “Under the old legislation which we seek to repeal today, at age 16, you could do all of these things. You could get a drink, go and buy it and walk out with it. You could be in a rum shop and a youngster comes in and you could employ him in the process of a business which is engaging in the sale and consumption of intoxicating beverages.”
He said raising the age limit will not only answer the call of stakeholders who are concerned about alcohol abuse among the youth, but it will also satisfy parts of the international community, in addition to being true to challenges faced in society with young people being able to access intoxicating beverages and other substances that can compromise their health and development.
The minister continued: “We do this because once you go through the people who call themselves interest groups in Barbados, who call themselves stakeholders in Barbados, who call themselves part of our society with a social conscience, the child advocates etc, the National Council of Substance Abuse (NCSA), the insurance industry in Barbados who raised the real commercial concern about the frequency of accidents on the road and how at between age 18 and age 20 little bit there are far higher at the age than you are at Mr Speaker, sir, and indeed I.
“These are people who have long written to the ministry, long expressed their concerns, about the way in which the administration of liquor in this country or intoxicating beverages in this country has been conducted.
“And in their concern, it is abundantly clear that there is a desire in the best interest of our young people, to have the age raised.”