MB Subba

After a decade, the government could do away with the ban imposed on issuance of bar licence.

Issuing new bar licences in the country was suspended in 2010.

Economic Affairs Minister Loknath Sharma on January 24 said that banning anything was not a solution to problems and that the ministry was reviewing the policy.

He was responding to a question from Chumey Ura MP Karma Wangchuk, who said that the ban on bar licence had deprived rural people of earning an income.   

“We believe that banning anything and imposing fines are not a solution to problems. It’s time to revise the policy,” he said.

He said that while hotel that have more than eight rooms could acquire bar licences, people in rural places did not. He described the discrepancy as a policy gap.

“The intent of suspending the issuance of bar licences may have been good, but that has not fulfilled its purpose. It’s said that a bar licence is illegally traded at up to Nu 600,000,” he said.

The economic affairs minister said that the ministry’s study had showed that there were no indications of any reduction in alcohol consumption.

“The number of beer factories has increased from one to three. Similarly, wine factories have come up. These are not indications of reduction in alcohol consumption,” he said.

He said the ministry had completed a research on the matter and that it would be submitted to the government for necessary feedback and comment.

“We feel it will be better if the government can look into it and lift the restriction,” Loknath Sharma said.

MP Karma Wangchuk said that it was easy to acquire a visa than to get a bar licence. “Shopkeepers in villages are not able to make much income as they do not have a bar licence,” he said.

However, he added that alcohol was being sold irrespective of whether one possesses a bar licence.

“They have to pay hefty fines when they are caught,” he said.