Legislation passed effecting changes to liquor licencing fees, penalties

GINA, Guyana, Friday, January 6, 2017

The National Assembly today passed a legislation to modernise Guyana’s archaic 25-year-old penalties relating to the licences for spirituous liquor.

The Intoxicating Liquor Licencing (Amendment) Bill 2016 that was passed this afternoon in the House allows for 100 percent increase in the fees and penalties.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, who defended the Bill, told the House that the legislation continues in line with most of those brought before the House yesterday and today.  These Bills are to give legal effect to the Budget 2017 measures.

Jordan explained that it seeks to address increases to the various fines that have been lagging for as long as 25 years.  According to the Minister, the last time some of the liquor licencing fees and penalties were increased was in 1992. “So, after 25 years we are seeking to increase the fees by 100 percent,” the Minister said. He added that he does not believe that the increase should pose great displeasure to the Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and to the greater public. Further, he pointed out that the increases are relatively small in comparison to the 25 years in which they were no increases.

Minister Jordan also noted that despite how much tax are increased on businesses that sell alcoholic beverages, the profits always seem to soar. He noted the recent announcement of a well-known beverage company in the newspapers of a record 2016 profit.

Opposition MP, Juan Edghill, called the increase in fees and penalties, “anti-business.” Edghill said that whether it is a liquor restaurant, a members’ club, or an ordinary shop, the fact that the businesses have to pay more for licencing and other penalties, it would mean that the increase would be passed down to the consumers. He pointed out that the increase in fees sought would not only be passed on to the users of alcohol, but as well to all the persons who are customers of the businesses, as he noted that much of these businesses sell items beyond alcoholic beverages.

Edghill said that if the issue was about safeguarding the society to deal with the issue such as underage drinking, or to address the effects of the use of alcohol and its impact on the nation’s health care services, then there were other initiatives that could have been taken.

However, Minister Jordan in responding questioned why the Opposition MP had difficulty in understanding and appreciating the intervention of the Bill. He reiterated that the Government is talking about increased fees and penalties, well below the cost of administrating them. He noted that some businesses failed to take out some of the licences because of the current low penalties attached to being penalised for not doing so. The Minister said that this is not to say that increasing the fees and penalties would cause changes in this behaviour.

He explained that the government is going down a line, where these fees and penalties would be brought more in line with administrative laws. He said too that these would be constantly reviewed, for updating. “We are not going to wait 25 years to increase these laws,” the Minister said.

Miscellaneous Licences (Amendment) Bill

Meanwhile, the Miscellaneous Licences (Amendment) Bill was also given the House’s approval today, allowing for increasing most of the prescribed fines. Minister Jordan, defending the measures contained in the legislation, told the House that increasing the licences is to bring them up to date, a range of fees that remain unchanged for as far back at 1958. He said that the increases would capture inflation and current realities.

The Opposition MPs, including Dharamkumar Seeraj, called the legislation another one in a series of Government measures taken in order to bridge the fiscal gaps that it must reach to get to that $250B funding that it set out as the 2017 expenditure.

The Opposition MPs called for incremental increases, which would not result in hardship to the ordinary Guyanese including the push cart vendors. Collin Croal told the House that the percentage increases do not take into consideration the situation on the ground and the people on-hand.

Minister Jordan however called out the Opposition MPs for their great sympathy for tax cheats, tax dodgers and unlawful behaviour. “The passion with which these groups are represented is unbelievable and unbecoming,” the Minister said.   He noted that the society is slipping down the slopes of increased lawlessness, “and because we allow it to. The increase fines would address those who break the laws,” the Minister said.

“The fact that we have to make these fees, means something,” he said. Minister Jordan also called out the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) for not increasing these fees over the years.

He also advised the House that he will take on board the calls to incrementally increase the fees. He said that this will be done hence-forth following the 2017 adjustments.

Below is a summation of the increases in fees and penalties provided for under the two pieces of legislation.

INCREASES IN PENALTIES under the INTOXICATING LICENCING (AMENDMENT) BILL 2016

Section Increase in penalties relating to Licences for Spirituous liquor

Liquor.

Old Penalty New Penalty
SEC 43 Penalty for selling malt liquor or wine without a licence  $3,000

$15,000

 

 $6,000

$30,0000

SEC 44(1)(2) Penalty for selling spirituous liquor without a licence.  $5,000

$50,000

 $10,000

$100,000

SEC 45 Penalties on holders of licences for selling and disposing of spirituous liquor, in contravention of licence (21 of 1992)  $5,000

$50,000

$10,000

$100,000

SEC 46 (1) Affixing of signboards (21 of 1992)    
  first offence $1,000 $2,000
  second offence $3,000 $6,000
  third offence $6,000 $12,000
SEC 47(1) Books to be kept by holder of licence (21 of 1992) $2,000 $4,000
SEC 48 Refusal to produce books, molestation or obstruction of commissioner

(66 of1952)

 $5,000

$10,000

 $10,000

$20,000

SEC 49(1) Regulation of strength of sprit kept by licence holders (24 of 1992) $5,000 $10,000
SEC 50 Penalty for allowing persons under 16 years to be on licenced premises

(21 of 1992)

   
  first offence $500,000 $1,000,000
  after until revocation $1,000,000 $2,000,000
SEC 51 Penalty for sale or supply of intoxicating liquor to young persons. $500,000 $1,000,000
SEC 52 Penalty for employment of young people to supply or to sell intoxicating

liquor (21 of 1992)

   
  first offence $1,000 $2,000
  second offence $3,000 $6,000
SEC 53 Offences in relation to constables (21 of1992)    
  first offence $5,000 $10,000
  subsequent offence $10,000 $20,000
SEC 54 Penalty for permitting drunkenness (21 of 1992)    
  first offence $2,000 $4,000
  subsequent offence $5,000 $10,000
SEC 55 Penalty for permitting premises to be a brothel (21 of 1992) $10,000 $20,000
SEC 56 Power to exclude drunkards from licenced premises(21 of 1992) $3,000 $6,000
SEC 57 Prohibition of other shop in same building as a sprit shop (21 of 1992) $3,000

$15,000

$6,000

$30,000

SEC 58 Barter of Liquor (21 of 1992) $3,000 $6,000
SEC 60 Playing cards, or dice, or gaming, in licenced sprit shop(21 of 1992)    
    $5,000 $10,000
  Gaming $3,000 $6,000
SEC 61 Power to constable to enter licenced sprit shop $3,000 $6,000
SEC 62 Sale of more than two litres of rum at one time (24 of 1992)    
  first offence  $3,000

$15,000

$6,000

$30,000

  second offence  $3,000

$15,000

 $6,000

$30,000

  third offence  $3,000

$15,000

 $6,000

$30,000

SEC 63 Production of licences (21 of 1992) $3,000 $6,000

 

INCREASES IN PENALTIES UNDER the MISCELLANEOUS LICENCE (AMENDMENT) Bill 2016

Section Increase the Penalties relating to Licences other than for the sale of spirituous Liquors Old Penalty New Penalty
Sec 10. (1) Not taking out licence when required (8 of 1958) $6  -$150 $5000

>$10,000

Section 12- Acting without licence $300 $10,000
Section 17 Use of or trading under another’s licence prohibited (28)

 

 

of 1936)

$15 – $150 $5,000

$10,000

Sec 18. (2) Painting of name and number on carriage or cart for hire

(4 of 1972)

$15 $5,000
Sec 19. (2) Painting of certain particulars on cart not kept for hire. $150 $10,000
Sec 20. (2) Painting of number on local cart $75 $7,500
Sec 22. Affixing of notice-board by person licenced to sell wine

and malt liquor to be drunk on the premises, or to keep a

butcher’s shop in rural districts.

   
  Current Penalty first offence $75 $7,500
  Second Offence $150 $10,000
Sec 23 (1)

(2) (3)

Notice to police by butcher in rural districts of intention

to slaughter

$150 $10,000
Sec 24 Weekly return of animals slaughtered $150 $10,000
Sec 27 Non-production of licence when required $75 $7,500
Sec 29 Assaulting district commissioner in execution of duty $300 $15,000
Sec 33. (1)

(2) (3)

Liability of person found on licenced premises during period when business cannot be lawfully transacted or they should be closed    
    $30 $16,000
    $75 $7,500
Sec 37. Police officer or constable not aiding in execution of this

Act.

 $37

$150

 $6,000

$15,000

 

Ms: Macalia Santos

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