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After year’s delay, ministry has yet to issue liquor licenses to 1400 businesses

After almost a year, more than a thousand hotels and guest houses are still waiting for the Ministry of Home Affairs to give them official liquor licenses.

“But they [the ministry] has still not responded about the liquor license issue,” U Myo Win Nyunt, director of the Hotel and Tourism Ministry, told The Myanmar Times on Monday.

According to the Hotel and Tourism Ministry, they issued licenses to 1575 hotels and guesthouses, with 63,336 rooms as of November last year, of which only 168 hotels have liquor licenses.

The two ministries have been negotiating about issuing the licenses for over a year.

At a meeting with Vice President Henry Van Thio, who chairs the central committee for the development of national tourism, regional officials discussed policies related to the sale of alcohol and the excise law.

Contacted for a comment, an official of the Excise and Revenue Division said they have limited the number of licenses since 2013 and there are no plans yet to resume issuing liquor licenses to hotels and other outlets.

“At present we cannot issue more licenses due to our policy. We know the hoteliers’ difficulties. On the other hand we have to follow the policy. That is why we are negotiating and trying to find a solution for this issue by cooperating with the tourism ministry,” said the official, who refused to be named for the article.

According to existing policy in Myanmar, every hotelier who wants to sell alcoholic beverages needs to secure a liquor license from the Ministry of Home Affairs, even if the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism has already issued them a hotel license to operate.

The Liquor and Tax Department has issued only 41,153 liquor licenses for the whole country and are not issuing new liquor licenses for now, which is why many hotels are facing difficulties with liquor license applications.

The Ministry of Hotel and Tourism urged the authorities to issue liquor licenses to hoteliers who have hotel licenses from the ministry upon the recommendation of regional governments and the hotelier association, U Myo Win Nyut said.

“Some businesses are selling liquor in their hotels and guest houses without liquor licenses, and that causes a loss of government taxes. But the Ministry of Home Affairs has regulations for the excise law,” he said.

Both the tourism and home affairs ministries are at odds over the issue. While the Ministry of Home Affairs wants to keep the number of licenses down, the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism wants liquor licenses given to many hotels to attract more visitors.

“The liquor license issue is a first priority concern for hoteliers. The tourism and home affairs ministries are still discussing it,” said U Aung Myo Min Din, chair of the Myanmar Hotelier Association.

Source: Myanmar Times

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