The Liquor (Amendment) Bill 2023 has been enacted by Parliament.
The enactment of this Act would limit the opening of nightclubs from 5am to 1am, every day – However, the Government has yet to indicate when the legislation is to take effect.
Speaking on his motion, the Attorney-General Siromi Turaga says the Act provides for inter alia the regulation of liquor licensing and permitted hours for the sale of liquor and has generally had a direct link to the opening hours of various venues which sell liquor.
Turaga said under the Schedule to the Act – special zones are identified as areas in the city of Suva and township of Nadi.
He said in recent years, there have been numerous reports regarding brawls, robberies and attacks during the early hours in Suva and Nadi and this has also resulted in serious injury and/ or loss of lives.
Turaga said therefore the Liquor (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Act to remove special zones which provides for the sale of liquor for extended hours in taverns, restaurants and nightclubs for areas in Suva and Nadi.
Opposition MP Faiyaz Koya criticised the Government’s intention to limit the opening of nightclubs based on a few reported incidents.
Koya said business operators used considerable amounts of money to move their businesses from Nadi Town into the special zones in Nadi.
He said employees in nightclubs will suffer the brunt of this law change – now forced to operate up to four to five hours.
However, the Minister for i-Taukei Affairs Ifereimi Vasu highlighted that during his consultations and attending the Provincial Council Meetings in Ba, Naitasiri and Ra, attendees pointed out that this affected the lifestyles of youths in these villagers.
Vasu said that the time for the youths to conduct traditional duties, there is no one to do the work, because these youths are just getting back from the clubs.
He added this lifestyle affected the future of the younger generation.
Also, the Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Tikoduadua said a great breakdown in society is one of the reasons it is limiting the opening of the nightclubs.
Kamikamica said that he puts the blame solely on the feet of the former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Meanwhile, 29 members voted in favour of the motion, 23 voted against while two did not vote.