Tourism, liquor laws reviewed
THE Accommodation, Catering and Tourism Enterprise Act (ACTEA) of 1997 and Liquor Licensing Act of 1998 are being reviewed to, among other things, regulate the brewing and selling of liquor and overseeing the operations of businesses mushrooming in the catering and tourism sectors.
An acting director in the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture ( MTEC), Lieketseng Selinyane, said the first phase of revising the Liquor Act had been completed last year with input from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The Act is now before a parliamentary committee for final review.
The revised Liquor Act will, among other things, find the best way to regulate the selling of traditionally-brewed liquor and other liquor brands that are being brought into Lesotho under “mysterious” circumstances.
“The old liquor law was silent on traditionally-brewed alcohol which is mostly by people living in rural areas and its sale has not been regulated by law,” Ms Selinyane said.
“Brewers of traditionally-brewed alcohol should also have licences as is the standard practice.”
She said the review of the laws would define the modus operandi of other government departments with the responsibility of awarding trading licences, to help overcome challenges in the sale of alcohol.
“We have found there is need for government departments responsible for issuing trading licences, such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing (MTICM), as well as the Maseru City Council and MTEC to work together in monitoring closely the activities of traders”, she said.
Ms Selinyane further stated it was imperative for the relevant authorities to work together to prevent the misuse of licences by traders who usually sell goods which are not permitted on their trading licences.
“There are traders who, despite being awarded a license to operate only a ‘snack bar’, which is just a small shop, sometimes exploit that licence to also sell liquor,” said Ms Selinyane.
“We also still have the problem of street vendors who operate catering businesses without obtaining the proper licensing for it.
“These people would have been awarded a stall on the street by the council but do not realise there is also a need for them to obtain a catering licence for that kind of business.”the revision of ACTE, she added, will improve the monitoring of the businesses which have emerged in the country due to the growing tourism industry.
“The former ACTE was not up to date with modern developments … to regulate the tourism industry,” Ms Selinyane said.
Through the revised Act, MTEC is also seeking to take over control of the gambling sector from the Ministry of Finance, she said, as it is under the purview of the ministry.
Ms Selinyane also appealed to event organisers to refrain from hiring people who have not been issued with catering licenses.
Such practices, she said, not only hamper the monitoring of the sector but also prejudice qualified businesspeople who are not afforded the opportunity to make a living from their lawful trade.
Ministry of tourism, Environment and Culture Acting Director Lieketseng selinyane