Alcohol is so deeply ingrained in Bhutanese life that it pervades every aspect of our culture and our daily lives. In fact, it could be said that there is hardly a family in our society that is not in one way or another touched by alcoholism.
Our many efforts to address the problem of excessive consumption of alcohol have, however, not met with laudable success. Perhaps we could not be really serious about bringing down the use of something that is very much part of our culture and existence.
An inspection by the Department of Industry (DoI) has found that only 11 of the 42 drayangs in the country own bar licence. Of the 25 discotheques, only six has licence to operate bar.
Entertainment places like drayangs and discotheques run on booze. So the owners of such entertainment businesses are compelled to work out illegal arrangement with bar licence owners.
While renting out bar licence is against the law, one can transfer the ownership of the licence. That, however, could give rise to a different problem altogether. Price of licence will shoot over the roof, making transaction difficult for many. This will mean that drayings and discotheques without bar licence will have to close.
This rule also applies to restaurants with bar, which will affect their business. But all these are done for a good cause – to bring down the level of alcohol consumption in the society. A beginning was made when government stopped issuing bar licence from 2010. Our efforts must succeed.
We are good, perhaps exceptionally good, with crafting laws. But we are not good implementers. That’s why we have myriad problems in every sector that could otherwise be solved easily.
The problem of alcoholism is growing and taking a toll on national life. For us to succeed in dealing with the society’s problem of excessive consumption of drinks, flouting or ignoring the rules should no longer be tolerated.
We laud DoI’s efforts.