Two years after promising an ease to shopkeepers, vendors and event planners who buy and sell alcoholic beverages, Minister of Commerce and Industry Donville Inniss says a reprieve is close at hand.
Inniss told small business stakeholders this week the recommended changes to the Administration and Liqour Licensing Act that would make it easier and less costly to obtain liquor licences would soon become a reality.
One of the major recommendations was for licences to be issued on an annual basis, fees from which earned Government some $1.6 million for the 2015-2016 financial year.
Promised changes to the Act, which has been in the works since last year and was schedule to go before Parliament earlier this year, were made as far back as 2015 when Inniss had criticized the “antiquated” system used to grant approval, while adding that the state had become “intrusive, demanding and onerous” to deal with.
Speaking Wednesday at a small business stakeholders’ forum at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery in Pelican Village, Inniss said the new framework for the liquor licensing system and guidelines was currently being prepared by the office of the Chief Parliamentary Council.
Once the changes are approved, individuals will obtain licences from the Department of Commerce instead of the Magistrate’s Court, the minister said.
“That will then free up the Magistrate’s Court . . . and let people get on with their business and not feel that they have to come a day or two to stand in a court system and wait on a licence to get approval.
“I am also trying to see how we can reduce those licence fees as well. I don’t believe that we ought to be charging high fees for licences in this country. It is a monopoly and you don’t have a choice. The truth is that some of these things can be very daunting in Barbados,” Inniss said.
In his 2010 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had announced an immediate decrease in liquor licences, as he sought then to ease shop owners and bars.
Back then Sinckler had announced that the retail licence would drop from $1,000 to $500.