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No more Dry-day Tuesdays

Tuesdays will no longer be observed as dry days in the country. This means alcohol can be freely sold by restaurants, hotels and other licensed businesses even on Tuesdays. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment says this decision has been made following requests from the business community as well as from the monitoring stakeholders.

The Minister for Industry, Commerce and Employment, Karma Dorji, says the ministry has been receiving requests from businesses all the time pleading to do away with the dry-day policy.

He shared this at the monthly meeting with business entities held last Friday where the same appeal was proposed yet again.

The minister shared that the request has been acknowledged. He added that this move is part of its initiative to update and improve the Trade and Industries regulations.

‘‘It is just that they buy, take, and drink. And also from our people working in that sector, who have to monitor, they were also expressing that it is very difficult to monitor. Because we do not have that many people to monitor and enforce. Meanwhile, the seller and buyers are saying that on Tuesday also they were able to get alcohol and they were able to go and buy alcohol because strict monitoring has not been done and then also because of the economic situation right now.’’

According to the ministry, the new policy comes into effect from today. The news has been warmly received by businesses dealing in alcohol.

“For almost three years in the past, I have been struggling, so if the government allows us to sell alcohol on dry days, we would be really grateful since it will benefit us in paying the rent and utility bills like water and electricity bills,” said Shacha Zangmo, an owner of a bar.

“In my opinion, permitting the sale of alcohol during dry days is very beneficial for us. Firstly, we can pay the house rent from the extra income we generate from selling alcohol. Secondly, when we accidentally sell alcohol on Tuesdays without realising it’s a dry day, we get fined an amount equivalent to six months’ worth of our income, resulting in a significant loss,” said Karma Phuntsho, an owner of a bar.

“We are very happy with the lifting of the dry day. I didn’t feel the difference before the pandemic because we had more customers. However, with fewer people visiting us today, we are facing difficulties,” said Dhurba Gurung, another owner of a bar restaurant.

A few members of the public BBS talked to also shared similar views.

“From my perspective, I feel it’s okay that there are no longer any dry days because people who drink manage to consume alcohol even during the dry days. Therefore, I support this decision,” said Leki Drakpa, a resident of Paro.

‘‘In my opinion, I feel that this decision will be beneficial for the bars and shopkeepers because I have witnessed these businesses being affected by a large number of people moving abroad. Therefore, if the dry day is lifted, I think the bar owners and shopkeepers can generate extra income,” said Sherab, a resident of Wangdue Phodrang.

According to the old rule, any business entity selling alcohol on a dry day was liable to pay a fine equivalent to a daily minimum wage of six months or the previous year’s Business Income Tax, whichever is higher. Repeated offenders had their licenses cancelled for three years.

The policy to observe every Tuesday as a dry day was put in place in 1999, but the reasons behind this decision remain unknown.

Karma Wangdi

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen