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Govt mulls issuing bar licence in tourist spots

The policy prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21

The government is considering issuing bar licences in tourism spots along with the diplomatic zones and special economic zones under a new policy drafted by the Security Services Division of the Home Ministry.

A total of six types of licences — restaurant and bar, hotel and bar, club and bar, off shop of British liquor, duty-free off shop, and duty paid off shop — will be issued in the aforementioned areas, the policy said, according to the sources.

Alongside, the policymakers are also working on issues like import of foreign liquor, issuance permit for alcohol consumption and amount of individual consumption, reports Bangla Tribune. 

Md Hamidur Rahman Khan, joint secretary of the Home Ministry, said: “A provision is being prepared as per the law. We have to bring the issue of alcohol under a guideline. After making the provision, the government will consider giving licences to those who  apply for a licence fulfilling all the conditions and criteria.”

In Bangladesh, the provisions of Muslim Prohibition Rule 1950 and Excise Manual (Volume 2) are still followed in the trading of liquor. Besides, the trade is also regulated by executive order as per requirement.

In 1999, although a provision was made in light of the Narcotics Control Act 1990, there was no mention of alcohol or its consumption.

Officials concerned said bar licences have been issued for five-star standard hotels so far upon the approval of the ministry, but the government is thinking of issuing bar licences even to two-star quality hotels in a controlled way considering the aspect of tourism.

The draft policy also mentioned priority of giving such licences to diplomatic zones, special economic zones and tourism spots, they said.

According to the policy, quality hotels can have multiple bar licences citing reasons and mentioning different spots in their applications. They have to obtain the ministry’s approval as well in this case.

The star status will decide the number of bar licences in a hotel. Two, three, and four-star quality hotels will be allowed maximum one, three, and four bar licences respectively. Five-star or above standard hotels can take a maximum of seven licences.

Resorts, restaurants, and clubs in tourist areas or diplomatic zones will get one bar licence each.

A duty paid off shop will be allowed to be operated in a convenient place near the workplace or residence of foreign citizens residing legally in the country.

According to the policy, bar licenses will not be issued to companies that are 100% owned by foreign nationals, rather licenses can be issued to joint ventures with Bangladeshis to attract foreign investment.

In that case, information related to work permit of foreign nationals, registration with the Board of Investment, and amount of investment have to be submitted.

In the case of issuance of bar license for a club, a complete list of alcoholic (permit holder) members and general members of the club has to be attached with the application form. Of the members, at least 200 people must have the British alcohol permit, the draft policy said.

About the issuance of a permit, the policy states that a Muslim has to apply to the office concerned in a prescribed form along with the prescription from a doctor. However, the new policy does not have any restrictions for non-Muslims, as it was before.

Professionals such as cobblers, sweepers, and tea workers will be able to drink locally made liquor with permits, it said.

An individual has to obtain the alcohol permit afresh every year while permits for British and domestic liquor will not be issued for the same person for the same period.

Amount of alcohol consumption allowed 

A permit holder can be served a maximum of seven units (per unit 750ml) British wine, 11.25 litres of beer, and 2.25 litres of wine or alcoholic beverages per month, according to the draft policy.

However, the policy prohibits the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

The bar or off shop must be closed on Fridays and during Holy Ashura, Eid-e-Miladunnabi, Shab-e-Barat, Shab-e-Qadr, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-ul-Azha along with other government fixed days.

No obscene cultural activities will be allowed in the licensed bar courtyard.

Hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, and club bars and off shops will be open from 11am to 2pm and from 6pm to 10:30pm, while local liquor stores will be open from 10am to 9pm.

The draft policy has prohibited issuing of bar licences within 100 metres of areas like religious places, educational institutions, hospitals, important markets and its entrances, mass bathing areas, entrances of children’s homes or its adjoining areas.

In the case of setting up a bar or off shop in the cantonment area, a no-objection letter from the GOC concerned has to be submitted along with the application.

When asked about the draft policy, Department of Narcotics Control Director General Muhammad Ahsanul Jabbar refused to make any comment immediately.

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