Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet mulls allowing purchase of booze online

Staff writer, with CNA

Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) yesterday announced that the Cabinet is mulling amending the law to allow people to buy alcohol over the Internet.

According to existing regulations, alcohol may not be sold or transferred in a way in which the buyer or transferee cannot be identified, such as through vending machines, postal sales or electronic transactions.

The Cabinet is to study and draft rules to keep minors from being able to order alcohol online, Minister Without Portfolio Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲) said.

Some of the regulations are to include requiring consumers to submit their name, birth date and ID number when placing orders; limiting payment methods to credit cards; and requiring consumers to show their ID card when picking up online purchases from convenience stores.

The Cabinet also plans to increase administrative fines for breaches committed by tobacco or alcohol producers, importers and sellers from between NT$10,000 and NT$50,000 to between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000.

Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said that eight nations and regions, such as Germany, Austria and Hong Kong, allow online alcohol purchases without restrictions.

A total of 19 nations and areas, including the UK, Japan and China, allow online purchases with restrictions; the US, Canada and South Korea partially allow online transactions; and eight nations, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Poland, do not allow such transactions, Sun said.

In other news, the legislature on Monday passed amendments to the School Health Act (學校衛生法) that ban the use of genetically modified ingredients or processed food with such ingredients in school meals.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), one of the amendments’ sponsors, said that the nation imports more than 2.3 million tonnes of soybean products annually, 90 percent of which are genetically modified or “animal feed” products.

Most genetically modified crops are grown using chemical herbicides, and stored and shipped through a procedure fit for animal feed, Lin said, adding that if such crops were used in meals for schoolchildren, it would affect their physical and psychological health.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said that if students consume products that are made from genetically modified primary ingredients, it would be tantamount to a hidden food-safety crisis, because they would be exposed to unnecessary risks.

To ensure food safety and to protect students’ health, it is imperative to require that schools are rid of genetically modified food, the lawmakers said.

The Ministry of Education said that when the new requirements take effect — expected to be next semester at the earliest — the cost of school meals could increase by NT$5 per meal.

That would add NT$235.8 million to the ministry’s budget for subsidizing school meals for 262,000 disadvantaged elementary and junior-high school students, it said.

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