Beer sta­tions say prof­its slump as pumps close

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SU PHYO WIN su­phy­owin@mm­times.com

Some Yan­gon beer sta­tions are still flout­ing a law against sell­ing draught with­out a special li­cence, while those fol­low­ing the newly en­forced rules are see­ing busi­ness slump.

SOME Yan­gon beer sta­tions are still flout­ing a long-ig­nored law against sell­ing draught beer with­out a special li­cence, which lo­cal au­thor­i­ties re­cently started try­ing to en­force. Those that have fol­lowed the let­ter of the law, mean­while, are see­ing busi­ness slump.

Most beer sta­tions across the coun­try have served draught beer for many years un­der an FL17 li­cence, though of­fi­cially this is pro­hib­ited by law. But last month sta­tion man­agers of­fer­ing draught beer re­ceived let­ters from ward ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fices telling them to stop.

Ward ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fices are un­der control of the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion De­part­ment, which is over­seen by the mil­i­tary through the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs.

U Thein Than Win man­ages a beer sta­tion in Min­galar Taung Nyunt town­ship, which stopped sell­ing draught beer last month af­ter re­ceiv­ing a warn­ing.

Sales are down around 30 per­cent since then, he said, with cus­tomers mov­ing to the few beer sta­tions that have not stopped serv­ing.

Other beer sta­tion own­ers that have cho­sen to abide by the law and close pumps also re­port a sharp fall in prof­its.

Most sta­tions in Min­galar Taung Nyunt town­ship with FL17 li­cences have stopped sell­ing beer on tap, said U Thein Than Win.

But in other town­ships beer sta­tion own­ers re­port that draught beer still flows at un­li­censed bars.

Bar own­ers with an FL17 li­cence that con­tinue to sell draught beer and are caught will be pun­ished, but as ward of­fices have not en­forced city­wide in­spec­tions many beer sta­tions are con­tin­u­ing to pour.

U Hla Win Tin, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the liquor and tax de­part­ment un­der the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs, said that the crack­down was sim­ply an ap­pli­ca­tion of the Liquor Act and its reg­u­la­tions.

That act states the only peo­ple al­lowed to sell draft beer are those with the cor­rect li­cence, he said.

Of the ap­prox­i­mately 7000 bars and restau­rants that sell tap beer today, only around 2500 hold an FL9 or FL10 li­cence specif­i­cally al­low­ing them to sell draught beer.

Some beer sta­tion own­ers with only an FL17 li­cence are hur­riedly try­ing to ap­ply for an FL9, in­clud­ing U Tin Shwe who owns Maw Shwe Li sta­tion in Tarmwe town­ship. He ap­plied two weeks ago in search of a so­lu­tion to avoid shut­ting his pump.

But the Min­istry of Home Af­fairs has said it will not is­sue more li­cences, and fol­low­ing U Tin Shwe’s ap­pli­ca­tion he was vis­ited by a small army of of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the town­ship ad­min­is­tra­tor, the ward ad­min­is­tra­tor, a mem­ber of the city de­vel­op­ment com­mit­tee and a high-rank­ing of­fi­cial from the town­ship po­lice sta­tion.

When they found out he was sell­ing draught beer with only an FL17 li­cence, they told him to stop.

U Tin Shwe said it would be one thing if the new law was im­posed uni­formly across the ward, but other beer sta­tions are still sell­ing draught beer with only an FL17 li­cence.

He is los­ing cus­tomers to ri­val beer sta­tions that have ei­ther not been asked to close or have not re­sponded to of­fi­cial in­struc­tions. U Tin Shwe said he is con­sid­er­ing flout­ing the law and sell­ing draught beer again to avoid los­ing busi­ness.

As the min­istry is no longer sell­ing li­cences the only way to ac­quire an FL9 is from an ex­ist­ing li­cence holder, U Tin Shwe added.

The li­cences can be bought and sold, but are only valid at the ad­dress for which they were orig­i­nally is­sued. The crack­down has pushed up the price of FL9 li­cences ac­cord­ingly, from K40,000-K50,000 be­fore it be­gan, to K70,000–K80,000, U Tin Shwe said.

Swe Tha Har restu­rant in Magwe Re­gion sent a pe­ti­tion let­ter to the lo­cal po­lice de­part­ment ask­ing for per­mis­sion to sell tap beer with an FL17 li­cence, which was re­jected.

Photo: Aung Khant

A bar­tender pulls a pint of Myan­mar Beer.

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