published: 20.09.2012, 17:50 | updated: 20.09.2012 17:52:37
Prague - The Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) plans to impose a ban on exports of hard liquor from the Czech Republic, which the European Commission (EC) demands, over the affair with methanol poisoning from bootleg spirits, he said in the Chamber of Deputies today.
However, Brussels might react faster and ban alcohol imports from the Czech Republic before the government takes the measure, Heger said.
The government will discuss further steps in the methanol affair, in particular alcohol exports to the EU countries, at an extraordinary meeting to be held at 18:00 tonight, after the Chamber of Deputies session.
According to CTK information, Heger sent a letter to European Commissioner John Dalli, in charge of health and consumer policy.
The ban on liquor exports from the Czech Republic might be issued next Wednesday. It would apply to alcohol that would not meet new safety conditions, Health Ministry spokesman Vlastimil Srsen said.
The Health Ministry banned the sale of spirits containing more than 20 percent of alcohol across the country on Friday evening in reaction to a high number of methanol poisoning cases caused by the consumption of bootleg alcohol.
Bootleg alcohol has claimed over 20 lives so far and tens of others are hospitalised with methanol poisoning symptoms in the country.
On Wednesday, the government decided to take steps to soften the prohibition.
The newly produced liquor should be laboratory tested and obtain a new type of stamps and "birth certificates," including data on its origin and handling.
The government assigned the respective ministers to prepare these steps by next Wednesday.
Dalli called Heger on Wednesday and he asked him to halt Czech exports of spirits.
Heger told reporters in the Chamber of Deputies today that his ministry planned to add the ban on alcohol exports to the updated version on the prohibition order. However, the EU might surpass Prague in the preventive measures and ban imports of liquor from the Czech Republic, he added.
He said the government would also like to define risky alcohol to be able to better prevent its spread. It has been proved that mostly cheap home-made liquor is risky, Heger added.
However, the Health Ministry must wait for particular measures to be prepared by the agriculture, finance and industry and trade ministries over the safety of alcoholic beverages, Srsen pointed out.
"The Czech Republic may ban the exports of alcohol that does not meet the (safety) parameters," Srsen added.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) today signed a decree on the basis of which the State Security Printing Company will start producing new alcohol stamps. The decree is to take effect next Wednesday.
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