Loophole may mean liquor board stays idle

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 November, 1999, 12:00am

The board that will decide whether restaurants can sell alcohol could remain idle indefinitely because of a loophole in the bill to reorganise municipal services, lawmakers have warned.

At yesterday's bills committee meeting, Andrew Wong Wang-fat, a non-affiliated legislator, opposed removing requirements for the new Liquor Licensing Board to meet every three months.

Existing laws state the board, formed by elected municipal councillors, should meet in March, June, September, and December.

Under proposed legislation, the new board, with members appointed by the Government, will meet only when they think it necessary.

Maureen Chan Leung Mong-lin, the Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, said the requirement was removed to make the agency more flexible.

But Mr Wong, who chairs the committee, argued: 'There could be a scenario where the board might not meet once in a year.' Lee Wing-tat of the Democratic Party suggested expanding the membership of the board to speed up screening of applications. He also said elected public representatives should be given seats on the board.

Mrs Chan ruled out altering the bill, which is due for a second reading on December 1.