Barrow plans liquor licence talks
By LINDA CHOY
INDEPENDENT legislator Mr Martin Barrow is planning a meeting between government officials and restaurant and bar owners to discuss the delays in issuing liquor licences.
Bureaucracy in the application procedures and the way the police enact the legislation will be the main concerns in the meeting.
Mr Barrow, who is the chairman of Hongkong Tourist Association, said the regular licence-checking exercise had created a nuisance to the business of bars and restaurants and could destroy the image of Hongkong as a tourist centre.
In some cases, up to eight policemen would raid one restaurant only to check if it has got a liquor licence, he said.
''The policemen should be dealing with law and order in the street, not checking liquor licences.
''Here we are trying to promote Hongkong as a tourist destination, to give good service to our tourists and yet some tourists go to these restaurants and there is no liquor,'' he said.
Mr Barrow was also frustrated by the bureaucracy in the Government which made application procedures time-consuming.
At present, it takes at least six months for the Government to issue a liquor licence.
After submitting an application to the Urban Council's Liquor Licensing Board, an applicant also needs to seek approvals from different government departments including the Fire Services, Buildings and Lands as well as the Urban Services Department.
''The Government is short of staff, the private sector is short of staff and so much time is wasted just passing papers round in a circle,'' he said.
The meeting, to be held in early April, will include the Government's efficiency unit and all departments mentioned above.