Senators approve liquor licence fees cut
Senators approved a law to cut liquor licence fees during yesterday’s session of the Upper House.
The Liquor Licence (Fee Reduction) Temporary Amendment Act was rushed through the House of Assembly on Friday in a bid to give the hospitality sector a financial break.
Yesterday senators from both political parties gave it their backing.
Once signed into law by the Governor, the Act will reduce the cost of an annual licence by half.
Presenting the Act, Ernest Peets, the Government Senate Leader, said that bars and restaurants had been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He pointed out that Government had been forced to impose restrictions on their operation in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
As a result, financial breaks were necessary to give bars and restaurants “a fighting chance to survive”.
Opposition senator Marcus Jones said the One Bermuda Alliance “appreciates the need for Government to lighten the load” on the hospitality industry.
He added that Government should consider extending the licence fee break further.
That question was taken up by OBA Senate leader Ben Smith and Independent senator Michelle Simmons, who asked if the law could be applied retroactively.
Senator Simmons said that establishments had had their revenues slashed as a result of Covid-19 last year, but still had had to pay the full licence.
Another Independent senator, John Wight, said he was “not a big fan” of laws being applied retroactively.
But he suggested that Government could reduce the licence fees by more than 50 per cent this year.
Senator Peets said he would provide Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons with feedback from the debate.