Revised off-liquor license fees, reduced sale hours and outdoor entertainment licenses: |21 June 2019
The Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning Maurice Loustau-Lalanne appeared before the National Assembly on Wednesday 19 to provide clarifications on SI 35 of 2019, pertaining to measures to curb alcohol abuse within the country, with emphasis on restricting minors’ access to alcohol.
SI 35 brings regulations concerning hours that alcohol can be sold under off-liquor license, license fees to do with alcohol sales, the introduction of times to sell under outdoor entertainment license which doesn’t exist today.
As stated in SI 35, effective as of June 1, the alcohol sale hours has been reduced by 2 hours on weekdays but remain unchanged on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Minister Loustau-Lalanne explained that a high-level committee comprising stakeholders and concerned departments decided on reducing alcohol sale times from Mondays to Thursday from 11.30am to 1.30 pm.
The second measure introduced under SI 35 is revised off-liquor license fees which, Honourable Egbert Aglae noted has increased from R300 to R3000 in some instances and from R500 to R5000 in others. Honourable Jean-François Ferrari, the member for Mont Fleuri, highlighted that licenses for artisanal home-brewed alcohol such as ‘baka’, ‘lapire’ and toddy are priced relatively low.
In response, Minister Loustau-Lalanne stated that the processing fees for artisanal alcohol remains unchanged, but the licensing fees have increased to R1000 for both ‘baka’ and ‘lapire’.
“There are more elaborate policies to come. The Alcohol Drinks Policy Bill to be tabled before the National Assembly has already been published, and it will be the framework to advertising, alcohol sales, under regulations to be tabled before assembly at a later date,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne revealed.
Numerous members questioned the rationale in reducing alcohol sale times stating that the regulations and hours in place before were not enforced effectively. There have been 35 cases against retailers who failed to respect alcohol sale times over the past 5 years.
Honourable Regina Esparon, the member for Glacis, sought clarifications on the distinction between temporary licences priced at R100 and outdoor entertainment licences priced at R1000.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne clarified that any outdoor activities in which alcohol will be sold will require an outdoor entertainment license valid for one day, and which is priced at R1000.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne argued that the efforts to combat alcohol abuse is a collective effort and that every member of society has a role to play to ensure that non-conformity of the regulations, enforced under the Seychelles Licensing Act, is reported to relevant authorities.
The assembly continued to discuss on the SI through to the afternoon. Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, expressed his concerns regarding the culture in which children are introduced to alcohol at a young age within the home.
He too questioned the efficacy of enforcement agencies.
He put forward several propositions including revoking retail liquor licenses at first instance of offences and establishing parameters around schools for establishments that sell alcohol.
However, Minister Loustau-Lalanne reassured the assembly that the subsequent Bill and regulations to be tabled before the assembly have been well formulated to address and reduce alcohol abuse.
He welcomed the propositions put forward by Honourable Ramkalawan and members of the assembly and instructed them to make amendments to be included in the SI.