Govt told to probe controversy in beer import licensing

ZANZIBAR: THE Zanzibar Minister of Tourism and Heritage Simai Mohamed Saidi has signaled a beer shortage in the Isles, as retailers blame recent reforms in importation licensing, made by the Zanzibar Liquor Board (ZLB), be the cause of the scarcity.

Mr Saidi explained at the press conference he convened to express the concern that the food and drink industry are among the basic requirements for tourists, “If we fail to plan, including having enough stock of alcoholic beverages, we frustrate our visitors.”

Minister Simai pointed out that recently the liquor board made changes by issuing import licenses to new importing agents, leaving out the old importers: Scotch store Ltd, One-stop, and ZMMI company, which have been in the business for more than two decades.

“Reasons behind the ZLB move not to renew their licenses is unclear, but the companies have filed an appeal to the minister, as per legal procedure regarding liquor imports licensing,” Mr Simai laments.

The drinks are imported from Tanzania Mainland and abroad but, according to Mr Arvind Asawla, Managing Director of Scotch Store Limited, “We need urgent action by the government before our stores are empty. Scarcity has caused the price rise of beer.”

The Zanzibar Liquor Board is under the Ministry of State- President’s Office (Regional Administration, Local Government and special department) and its Principal Secretary Mr Issa Mahfoudh Haji said they have heard about the complaints.

“We have heard about the complaints and we need to find details about the controversy.”

There have been claims that some tourist hotels in Unguja’s North, and South regions such as Paje, Bwejuu and Jambiani, where drinkers are already complaining.

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