LIQUOR licensing services which are currently been offered by the Ministry Tourism, Environment and Culture will soon be transferred to the Ministry of Trade and Industry after the special report of the Portfolio Committee on the Natural Resources, Tourism and Land Cluster on Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Nov. 24, 2021
3 min read
Liquor licensing services transferred from tourism to trade
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- Tourism ministry unable to carry out core mandate of regulating tourism enterprises
- In the next financial year, revenue will be budgeted for and collected by trade ministry
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Kimetso Mathaba, the Chairperson of the committee, said there is nothing in particular that the bill holds for Basotho.
He said the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture showed that due to a heavy work load and limited resources, the ministry was unable to carry out its core mandate of regulating tourism enterprises and optimising Lesotho’s potential in economic development through tourism.
''The Bill is meant to transfer legal and regulatory control on liquor from the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture to the Ministry of Trade and Industry so that the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture (MTEC) can focus on regulating tourism enterprises and optimising the potential of Lesotho in development through tourism,'' he said.
Mr Mathaba said the two ministries agreed that the streamlining of the tourism licensing system will help the ministry to improve and maintain minimum quality standards for consumers in the tourism sector other than focus on the prevention of health risks and untoward behaviour related to alcohol consumption by the Tourism Sector.
He said the Bill is aligned with the National Tourism Policy, National Strategic Development Plan II and Sustainable Development Goal 8, adding that the total revenue budgeted for licenses in 2021-2022 is M926 560.
The minister said it was worth noting that in the next financial year, the revenue will be budgeted for and collected by the Ministry of Trade.
However, he said as much as the Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA) and the Lesotho Liquor and Restaurant Owners Association (LLROA) welcomed the Parliament's initiatives to include them in law-making decisions by submitting written submissions to the Committee, as the stakeholders in the liquor and hospitality sectors, they are not happy with the Amendment and have raised their concerns.
They are among others not happy that the ministry did not make the necessary consultations regarding this Amendment, yet it has negative impact on the day-to-day running of their businesses.
They are also not content about switching from one ministry to another in order to renew their businesses licenses, which they argue is time-consuming on their part, adding that a one-stop shop facility would be ideal for the renewal of all business licenses.
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Mr Mathaba further noted that the stakeholders also raised the concern that the Ministry of Trade is already overwhelmed with the businesses that it has to monitor, arguing that adding liquor businesses to the lot is a recipe for disaster in terms of spot checks as a way to maintain cleanliness and compliance.
He said his committee noted with concern the lack of consultation by the MTEC with the relevant stakeholders whose businesses are directly affected by the Amendment, as well as the overloading on the Ministry of Trade on monitoring.
“The Government found it necessary to set up a one-stop shop because all these factors may have a negative impact on the liquor and hospitality businesses,” the Chairperson said, adding that the committee has recommended that the Minister of Tourism, Environment and Culture be allowed to withdraw the Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Bill, 2021 so that the necessary consultations with the relevant stakeholders could be done.
The Committee's conclusion on the special report was to submit it for adoption by the House. LeNA