Restaurant group takes liquor board to court over licence delays, costs

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Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, restaurants have had to contend with strict and mostly unpredictable lockdown restrictions.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, restaurants have had to contend with strict and mostly unpredictable lockdown restrictions.
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  • The Restaurant Association of South Africa is taking the Gauteng Liquor Board to court.
  • The association is seeking an order compelling the board to expedite the issuing and renewal of liquor licences for restaurants.
  • The association said restaurants also complained of crippling fees from liquor consultants, which plunged businesses into further financial trouble.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) says it is taking the Gauteng Liquor Board to court over costs and delays in the processing and renewal of liquor licences for establishments still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing national lockdown.

Rasa said in a statement that it is seeking an order by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, compelling the board and its chairperson Fhedzisani Pandelane to expedite the issuing and renewal of liquor licences for restaurants. This was after it was inundated with requests for assistance from many businesses regarding their liquor licence renewals.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, restaurants have had to contend with strict and mostly unpredictable lockdown restrictions which imposed conditions such as a ban on the sale of liquor and limits to how many people can gather at an inside venue, which had a devastating effect on restaurant revenues.

In the urgent notice of motion, Rasa said the lack of urgency when it came to the issuing of new liquor licences compounded the enormous fees liquor consultants are charging to assist restaurants.

"Despite our slow economy there is no engagement or forward progressing processed to support us or an urgency to assist us with expediting the process in issuing liquor licenses or getting the renewals out on time to save restaurants and jobs," the association said.

Rasa lamented an "epidemic" in which illegal liquor traders outflanked legally compliant restaurants because compliant businesses struggled to get their licences issued or renewed on time. The crippling fees from liquor consultants plunged restaurants into further financial trouble, Rasa said.

The association said while each province has its own liquor board, the national Department of Trade, Industry and Competition was charged with regulating the macro manufacturing and distribution tiers of the liquor industry and should intervene in the interests of compliant restaurants.

Attempts by Fin24 to reach the Gauteng Liquor Board for comment telephonically were unsuccessful.

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