New alcohol Bill will speed up liquor licence applications

The new bill would also empower the liquor board inspectorate to close down premises where liquor legislation is being breached. (Gallo)

The new bill would also empower the liquor board inspectorate to close down premises where liquor legislation is being breached. (Gallo)

The new Gauteng Liquor Bill would also seek to reduce the turn-around time of a liquor licence application, a pervading problem for business owners under the current legislation, chairperson of the provincial economic portfolio committee, Mafika Mgcina, told reporters outside the committee's fifth and final public hearing on the bill in Mabopane, north west of Pretoria.

"We view alcohol as an industry and business ... it propels economic growth," he said.

Among other changes, the new Bill will empower the liquor board inspectorate to close down premises when aware of public disturbances, liquor legislation breaches, a riot taking place, non-compliance taking place on more than three occasions, and public violence occurring.

Mgcina said he hoped that the Bill would be on premier Nomvula Mokonyane's desk for signing before the Gauteng legislature wrapped up its work for the year.

"However, we are not going to rush it," he added.

High interest
The committee had been impressed with the high level of interest shown by both business owners and community and religious stakeholders at the meetings, with over 200 people attending the meeting in Mabopane.

The committee had also received written submissions on the new Bill, with Mgcina describing the discussions at the public meetings as "robust".

Preventing the sale of alcohol on a Sunday, mooted previously, was not part of the new Bill.

The Bill would repeal and replace the 2003 Gauteng Liquor Act.

Provisions in the Bill that differ from its predecessor included the removal of local committees who received new licence applications, and the re-categorisation of different liquor licences for different types of businesses.

New liquor licence applications had to take place with the required documentation attached and complete, consideration guidelines for the Gauteng Liquor Board were included and the Gauteng Liquor Appeal Board would be established.

Selling liquor to a pupil in school uniform and a person who reasonably appeared intoxicated would be prohibited and inspectors would be required to conduct an inspection of every new applicant premises, among other responsibilities. – Sapa

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