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Fewer liquor licences in Little India after riot

The number of liquor licences in Little India has dropped from 331 in December 2013 to 321 as of last week (June 16).

SINGAPORE: More than 20 small businesses in Little India have pulled down their shutters in the last six months. Most are liquor sellers, impacted by alcohol curbs in the area following last December's riot there.

Liquor licences in Little India have also dropped from 331 in December 2013 to 321 as of last week (16 June). Channel NewsAsia understands this could be due to expired licences, or some businesses choosing to give up their licences. 

Last year, the total number of liquor licences issued islandwide was 6,176.

Before the December riot, liquor stores like Mr Sadhasivam Kailasam's were raking in the profits.

Mr Kailasam, the owner of Arasi Trading, said: "Before the riot, 100 per cent of shops were selling (alcohol), there was no problem. The rental, everything was cleared. We still got extra, and could get money (profit). Now, (because of) the riot problem, there has been an 80 percent drop. Only 20 percent are selling (liquor)."

His is not the only shop that has taken a hit after restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol were put in place under the Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Act.

Since the Act came into force in April, 149 people have been caught drinking during prohibited hours and two outlets taken to task for flouting liquor licensing conditions.

The measures have shrunk weekend crowds - in particular, the foreign workers.

Rajakumar Chandra, chairman of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association, said: "(With regard to the) restaurants, I would say, six to seven have closed down, and (for) liquor shops - at least 15 shops, small businesses, because they are so dependent on the Sunday business. They have also stopped their business activities because of the high overheads."

Some liquor stores in Little India said they are unable to fold their businesses because they are bound by rental agreements. Even after expanding the type of wares they sell in their shops they are still unable to make ends meet.

Before the riot, Mr Kabilan Balan easily earned $3,000 in liquor sales in a single weekend. Now he barely makes $1,000.

The owner of Moonshine Enterprise said that after paying the supplier, PUB bills and rental, there is no profit from his business.

"My wife is working, so she backs up my family expenses. If not, I cannot survive here," he said.

Liquor sellers hope the curbs will be lifted. 

The second phase of public consultation to seek views on restricting consumption and sale of alcohol at public places is under way. The public consultation is conducted by the Home Affairs Ministry and government feedback portal REACH.

In the first phase, many supported a proposal to designate no-alcohol zones at some public places. They also wanted shops to stop selling alcohol after a certain time, with more restricted hours in residential areas.


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