LIQUOR TO GET CHEAPER IN PUNJAB
HIC, HIC, HURRAY Govt to introduce more players in liquor trade to bring in competition and control in prices
This is most liberal policy by the state government where more people will come into the trade, with minimum guaranteed quota. GURTEJ SINGH, additional excise and taxation commissioner
CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government on Tuesday decided to slash prices of liquor from April 1.
As per the state’s new excise policy, the price of countrymade liquor will fall from existing Rs 250 per bottle to Rs 210. In case of medium level brand of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL), the price has been reduced from Rs 650 to Rs 550. The price of beer will also fall by Rs 40 per bottle.
Despite pressure from big players, the government also decided to break monopoly in the liquor trade. It plans smaller and more players to being in competition and control in prices.
The move to cut liquor prices in the state is seen as an effort to bring price at par with those in the state capital Chandigarh where in case of some brands the prices were almost half.
Meanwhile, officials in Chandigarh administration said they are working on a policy to increase prices of liquor. It is expected to be announced shortly.
The excise policy for 2018-19, proposed by the excise department , was cleared by the state council of ministers on Tuesday. The government has set a target of revenue generation of Rs 5,800 crore from the liquor sale, as compared to last year’s Rs 5,200 crore.
With two weeks more to go in
the current financial year, the revenue collection from the excise has touched Rs 4,800 crore and the state needs Rs 400 crore more to reach the target.
To break the monopoly, it has been decided to divide the state into 800 groups against 87 in the existing arrangement of the current financial year. The cost of each group has been fixed to Rs 5 crore against the existing cost of Rs 40 crore.
The 800 groups will manage 5,700 vends in the state. The number of vends is 5,900 in the current year.
The sale targets for 2018-19 are IMFL (Rs 21.6 crore), Punjab made liquor (Rs 7.2 crore) and beer (Rs 4.8 crore). There is a proposal to fix quota of 1.8 crore cases for PML, 60 lakh for IMFL (60 lakh) and 40 lakh for beer.
An excise official, on the condition of anonymity, new players will boost the saturated liquor trade.
For the first time, the government has decided to give respite to the licensee by allowing him to sell 70% of the assigned quota in case of country-made liquor and 65% of IMFL.
To cover up the gap emerging from flexible quota, the government decided to increase the excise duty on liquor by 12%.
“This is most liberal policy by the state government where more people will come into the trade, with minimum guaranteed quota,” said additional excise and taxation commissioner Gurtej Singh. “We plan to check bootlegging and smuggling this time, which was affecting the trade. Enforcement is going to be a major focus of the department,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government’s proposal to form a corporation to sell liquor has been deferred, as the excise department says it lacks manpower, knowledge of the trade and storage facilities. However, the policy has kept a clause that the department can enter the business if the need arises.