The Liquor Licences (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which amends the Liquor Licences Act, Cap. 18.21, was successfully passed through the Honourable House during a Sitting of Parliament on Wednesday.
Mover of the Bill, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, said that his administration’s effort is to “bring this piece of legislation into modernity” adding that it is “non-offensive and non-controversial.”
“This Amendment speaks to giving the power to the minister by order publishing the gazette to appoint a day or days for the holding of an additional special sitting of the Magistrates Court to assist persons who would require access to the court’s system to get a liquor license,” said Dr. Harris. “So, it is a straightforward piece of legislation intended to introduce some flexibility into the existing law to allow for additional sittings of the Magistrates Court to promote the ease of doing business. In other words, rather than allow entities that would have been able to secure their licences on 31 December to run afoul of the law, we have created this flexibility where not just one day, but some number of days could be assigned for this purpose.”
Prime Minister Harris added that the current Bill “is attempting to revamp the Liquor Licences Act and to make it more contemporaneous in its applications.”
The Bill also received support from Attorney-General, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr.
“This Amendment has come about because late last year as the law was then, it provided for those in our society who run establishments to sell liquor, and each year they had to appear before the Magistrate to renew their licences to sell liquor,” said Attorney-General Byron. “And as the economy has expanded and more people have been granted licences to sell liquor it becomes a sort of traffic jam on that last day of the year to get before the court to get their licences,” he added, noting that the half-holiday on December 31 hampered persons from renewing their licences.
He noted that the Amendment will allow for business people to operate within the law “rather than having to go outside the law and they become part of that structure.”