Letters — 07 March 2014 — by George G. Hardie

Dear Editor,

The attached letter was sent to Mr. Eugene Palacio, Ministry of Local Government. It grew from the participation in the liquor licensing meeting held recently at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel. The two suggestions listed in the letter, to me, are extremely worthwhile and I think your readers would be interested in considering them.

Thank you,
George G. Hardie
President & CEO
Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

March 3, 2014

Mr. Eugene Palacio
Ministry of Local Government
Constitution Drive
Belmopan

Mr. Clifford King
Local Government Officer
Ministry of Local Government
Constitution Drive
Belmopan

Gentlemen,

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate at the liquor licensing regulations meeting. I believe it was very worthwhile to get input from so many different levels and sources that will help craft a better piece of legislation.

I have two issues, obviously requiring more evaluation, before consideration of legislation. They are as follows:

a. Consider creating “jurisdictions” and putting a maximum number of licenses based on population, with ­­­­­­distance limitations from schools, churches, residential area and add appropriate zoning. This accomplishes two things (probably not popular with local Councils):

(i) it prevents discretionary granting of licenses. This is a country that needs to do all it can to curb corruption and a fixed number of licenses for defined areas is simply that, fixed.

(ii) it also adds value to the license, which, barring violations that would render the license invalid, has a financial value. People who have that license, and knowing that there are not others readily available, would be much more concerned to follow rules and regulations. They will follow the rules on closing, they will follow the rules on noise abatement, because they don’t want to lose that license!

b. Plainly put, the citizens of Belize have a drinking problem. I have 300 employees and every one of them drinks, some to excess. Over the past eight years many employees have lost their jobs because they are alcoholics and cannot meet their scheduled responsibilities. In the Licensing Act, bars close at a certain time. Why? One of the main reasons is to prevent all night drinking and can’t appear for work the following day. Let’s carry it a step further.

For those people who have the honesty to admit they have a drinking problem, where do they go for counseling and help? I believe if this country is serious about upgrading the standard of living and the quality of life, one of the things they must do is establish 12-step house and Alcoholics Anonymous chapters to help these people get counseling on alcohol addiction. When I started and ran the Bell Gardens Bicycle Club, I had 2,000 employees. We had people that had drinking problems. We encouraged and supported chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous on premises and watched some of our people rid themselves of that drinking affliction. The key, of course, is continual reinforcement. You must go to meetings, sit with other people with a similar addiction and be able to say openly, “I am an alcoholic.” That’s the first step on the road to recovery.

One of the huge problems in Belize is boredom and lack of opportunities on many levels. People need hobbies, interests, job motivation and the ability to read and absorb knowledge of things that are currently not available to them, but the first step is for the government to take a pro-active stance by supporting Alcoholics Anonymous chapters. The cost is nominal and will help many Belizeans before they lose their homes, wives, children and the other problems that excessive alcohol can lead to. We are considering a chapter here.

Sincerely,
George G. Hardie
President & CEO
Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

cc: Hon. Godwin Hulse
Amandala Newspaper

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