About 322 individuals in Thimphu and 973 in Yenlag Throms have obtained a restaurant license last month
Following the announcement of the economic affairs ministry allowing restaurant license holders to sell alcohol without the need for a separate bar license, the number of people applying for a restaurant license has increased significantly.
According to the statistics maintained by the Department of Trade (DoT), around 1,295 licenses for restaurants were issued in June. About 322 individuals in Thimphu and 973 in Yenlag Throms have obtained a restaurant license last month.
As per the rules and regulations for operating restaurants, retail stores, and bars, the license and renewal fee for delimited areas in the Thromde is Nu 15,000, while it ranges from Nu 3,000 to Nu 7,000 for demarcated urban core in the Dzongkhag or Yenlag Throms.
This means that the DoT has collected almost Nu 4.83mn from Thimphu alone, while the rest of the amount of Nu 6.8mn was collected from the various districts in the country from the license obtainers.
In total, around Nu 11.6mn was generated by issuing licenses for restaurants.
Meanwhile, the number of people requesting a restaurant license has increased fourfold.
In 2021, there were an average of 95 applications for a restaurant license per month and a total of 1,148 applicants annually.
This year after the MoEA’s notification, roughly 1,295 persons in the month of June and around 101 people in the first week of July acquired their licenses for a restaurant.
The data from the DoT and the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (DCSI) indicate that on average 43 people received a restaurant license each day in the month of June.
“We have been really busy the past month and people are still rushing to get a restaurant license,” an official of the DCSI said, adding that they would send back the bar license holders who renewed their licenses earlier this year.
The official said that some existing bar license holders have already renewed their bar licenses and they still have time to renew it.
“We will change it to a restaurant license when they come to us for the next renewal,” he added.
In the meantime, many individuals anticipated that the government would lift the restriction on bar licenses, but they did not expect that bar licenses would become irrelevant now.
Starting a bar business has become much simpler now.
Earlier, a bar license may cost up to Nu 0.4mn and if a license holder hires out, he/she gets paid Nu 5,000 per month. This had created a black market of bar licenses in the country.
“It has gotten much easier now and all we need is a restaurant license to sell alcohol,” said Samten Tshering, who has come to get a restaurant license.
“Obtaining a restaurant license was much easier compared to a bar license before when the ban on the bar license wasn’t imposed,” he added.
Tshering Pelden from Thimphu