‘Police still have power’
People granted licences under the new dispensation of the Liquor Licences Bill 2021 have been warned to adhere to the tenets of the legislation or risk having their business shut down.
This caution came from Member of Parliament for St George South Dwight Sutherland as he contributed to debate on the bill in Parliament yesterday.
The legislation moves the granting of liquor licences from the courts to the Ministry of Commerce and allows a single application to cover business activity across the island during any given season of activity.
Sutherland, who is also Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment and a former Minister of Commerce and Small Business, cautioned those who might “want to circumvent the role of the police” and said there were clauses in the legislation that spoke to any attempts at contravening the proposed act and if “you involve yourself in any drug trafficking or any form of illegal activity the police has the right to shut you down”.
“When we started this journey, statistics would show we had some 1 000 liquor licences awaiting approval in 2019 as a result of the bureaucratic nature . . . . This piece of legislation will modernise those small businesses to run their [establishments] to ply their trade. But what I think has been the benefit of this change is the digitisation process, and we have worked to ensure that the financial literacy of small businesses becomes a reality,” Sutherland said.
He said the Government’s aim was to ensure businesses were regulated in the most efficient manner to promote growth and sustainability across all classes.
“As a result, we will bring some of the small businesses into the formal business sector because they will be recognised as plying a trade [and] of course this whole aspect of paying will be dealt with as well because gone are the days we will have a thousand licences sitting down in a Magistrates’ Court and we don’t know who owe from who don’t owe . . . . With the press of one button [we will know] who are overdue,” Sutherland said. (JS)