Wray & Nephew seeks clarification from Gov'tSaturday, October 23, 2021
J Wray & Nephew (JWN) yesterday said it has asked the Government for an urgent clarification of the policy relating to the alcohol sector contributing to public sector causes.
The request came in a response to a directive from Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, last week, to hospitals and other institutions under State management not to accept gifts from tobacco- and liquor-producing companies.
The minister's internal memorandum, which was sent to senior executives of health-care institutions nationally, came after J Wray & Nephew had donated $45 million to help fight COVID-19.
The company, Jamaica's largest producer of spirits, issued the following statement yesterday:
The COVID-19 crisis has been debilitating to Jamaica and has put our health-care network and hospitals under severe strain. Thus, the private sector has been called on by the Government to assist.
J Wray & Nephew Limited, as Jamaica's oldest registered company, has responded to the appeal with donations, sponsorships, and other support. This response is consistent with the global response from the alcohol sector, which has seen companies like Moet Hennessy in France, Veuve Clicquot in the champagne region of France, Woodinville Whiskey in Washington, Chandon in Australia and Belvedere in Poland, among others joining their national responses to address the ongoing crisis.
For us at J Wray & Nephew, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a tool for lobbying or marketing. Rather, CSR is a mechanism for providing positive social value with measurable and transparent actions.
JWN is the number one wine and spirits producer on the island and is featured throughout Jamaican culture from birth to death and everywhere in-between. We feel that this rich history and our inextricable link to Brand Jamaica leaves us duty bound to respond to whatever challenge Jamaica is facing. Today's challenge is getting 'Jamaica, land we love' on the road to recovery from the extremely debilitating COVID-19 virus.
In the fight against COVID-19, JWN was quick to respond with millions of dollars in donations to the National Health Fund, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the PSOJ vaccine initiative. We then went directly to our communities with social intervention programmes that saw over 10,000 food packages delivered in 2020 and in 2021. We delivered sanitisers to at-risk-communities, infirmaries, children's homes, the societies for the deaf and blind, along with other NGOs, as well as to volunteers and first responders in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Fire Brigade, media, bankers and Tax Administration Jamaica. We also supported our customers, facilitated the reopening of community bars [by] providing handwash stations, sanitisers and information packages; assisted our partners and protected the jobs and benefits of our team.
Concurrently, our sister company, the JWN Foundation, deepened its commitment to education [by] delivering laptops, tablets, projectors, nutritional and infrastructure support to schools, and installed 61 handwash stations to schools in anticipation of the reopening of schools in September 2021. The foundation also grew its scholarship offering, allocating 413 bursaries valued at $25.4 million in 2020 and 416 bursaries in 2021 valued at $25.75 million.
All told, JWN and its affiliate have invested $516.7 million to the COVID-19 response, counting the $250-million forgone with the donation of 100,000 litres of alcohol to the health sector and our recent donations of $45 million to 12 hospitals and $21.7 million to frontline workers in our current Heroes Giveback Campaign.
We are proactive in self-regulation and in the absence of a Harmful Use of Alcohol Policy, our sustainability/CSR practices have introduced measures such as:
• the launch of campaigns on responsible drinking;
• training of bartenders on responsible pouring;
• the training of JWN staff on responsible marketing and advertising practices that prohibit marketing to persons under the legal drinking age;
• proactively adding warning icons to all our labels addressing pregnancy, drinking and driving, underaged consumption and environmental factors.
Additionally, several accountability measures have been embedded in sponsorship agreements with promoters and we are proud signatories to many codes of conduct (local and international) which are strictly adhered to.
It is our unequivocal position that we do not support the abuse of alcohol and are of the belief that anything in excess will become problematic and lead to social problems, this includes the consumption of food, gambling, and the ingestion of pharmaceuticals.
As the crisis deepens, JWN is being urgently called upon daily to extend our charity in support of various social programmes. We are minded to respond in the affirmative to both private and public sector appeals as Jamaica's fight against COVID-19 continues.
In light of the above, we have written to the Government seeking urgent clarification as to the policy of the Government toward members of the alcohol sector contributing to public sector causes. Please note, the sector comprises producers of beers; distributors of wines and spirits; the 10,000 plus community bars across Jamaica; wholesales and supermarkets; the tourism sector; restaurants and entertainment sector among others.
The Harmful Use of Alcohol Policy will affect the entire alcohol industry and should be approached with the tenets of good policy development that incorporates consultation with all relevant stakeholders.