Restau­rants run out of im­ported liquor

2 dupe scores on e-com­merce web­site, held

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - Amin Ali & Atul Mathur

New Delhi: For the first time in six years, Beer Cafe is not host­ing the Ok­to­ber­fest pro­mo­tions at any of its out­lets across Delhi. The rea­son: Ger­man beer is not avail­able in the city. If you have also or­dered your favourite im­ported wine, beer or any other liquor at a restau­rant, bar, lounge or night­club in the city and the apolo­getic waiter of­fered you a lo­cal vari­ant, it is due to de­lay in reg­is­tra­tion of new brands at the Delhi ex­cise depart­ment.

Many restau­ra­teurs told TOI be­cause of the un­usual de­lay this year, they have run out of im­ported liquor, lead­ing to loss of busi­ness and rep­u­ta­tion. One of them said nowa­days he hands out a print­out of what’s not avail­able along with the menu. The process that was to be com­pleted within a fort­night is not over af­ter two months.

Umang Te­wari of Big Fish Ven­tures said though their stocks were de­pleted, they had no op­tion but to wait. Many oth­ers who didn’t come on record rued their plight. An ex­cise depart­ment of­fi­cial said a new clause in the ex­cise pol­icy has made it must for pri­mary im­porters to keep the whole­sale price of their brands of for­eign liquor sim­i­lar in each state.

New Delhi: Two politi­cians from Ut­tar Pradesh were ar­rested for dup­ing sev­eral peo­ple on the pre­text of sell­ing cars on an e-com­merce site. They would take an ad­vance for the ve­hi­cle and then dis­ap­pear with the money.

Me­htab (35) and Aqib (25) were caught from Meerut. DCP (cen­tral) Man­deep Singh Rand­hawa said that the po­lice had re­ceived a com­plaint from one Sul­tan, a res­i­dent of Hy­der­abad, who claimed that he was cheated by the duo in Au­gust. He was asked to come to Delhi and meet them at Ajmeri Gate. Sul­tan agreed to pay Rs4.6 lakh for the car and trans­ferred the money to Me­htab’s ac­count. Me­htab promised to trans­fer the car to Sul­tan’s name the next day once they got the NOC from the trans­port depart­ment. He ac­com­pa­nied them to a ho­tel in Pa­har­gunj and even took a room ad­ja­cent to theirs. How­ever, the next day, he and his as­so­ciate Aqib fled the ho­tel.

“We an­a­lysed CCTV grabs from dif­fer­ent places. Bank de­tails of the ac­counts in which money was trans­ferred were also ob­tained. Af­ter some­time, we ar­rested them from Meerut,” said Rand­hawa. The ac­cused duo told cops that Aqib was plan­ning to con­test the pan­chayat elec­tions, and needed money for it. Me­htab had con­tested the elec­tions ear­lier, but lost.

The of­fi­cial said that the whole­sale price gen­er­ally varies from state to state and due to the dif­fer­ence in tax struc­ture, the re­tail price of for­eign liquor be­comes higher and cus­tomers pre­fer to buy it in Haryana.

He ar­gued the move will en­sure that the dif­fer­ence in the re­tail price of such brands in Delhi and its sur­round­ing states re­mained mar­ginal and con­sumers did not buy liquor from the neigh­bour­ing states and smug­gled it into the cap­i­tal. “Cer­tain brands have not fi­nalised their MRP. If restau­rants want to pro­cure a par­tic­u­lar brand, they can buy it from the re­tail mar­ket by tak­ing per­mis­sion from the ex­cise depart­ment. About 10-12 restau­rants have al­ready done that. When some pol­icy changes hap­pen, such de­lays do take place some­times,” the of­fi­cial added.

“The im­porters are re­solv­ing their pric­ing is­sue in other states and also cal­cu­lat­ing the hit in prof­its they will have to take by low­er­ing the whole­sale price in the cap­i­tal,” he added. An im­porter told TOI that Delhi had very high ex­cise du­ties and reg­is­tra­tion charges in NCR, vir­tu­ally ruling out the pos­si­bil­ity of liquor ever be­ing cheaper. He said low­er­ing of these charges could have been one way of low­er­ing the rates.

“The state is los­ing rev­enue and we are los­ing busi­ness but have no an­swer to give to our cus­tomers,” com­plained Varun Dug­gal, CEO and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of East­man Colour restau­rants. Rahul Singh, CEO of Beer Café, added: “This ‘bits and pieces’ reg­is­tra­tion of al­co­hol brands has badly im­pacted our busi­ness.”

Prakul Ku­mar, sec­re­tary gen­eral of Na­tional Restau­rant As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia, says they un­der­stand the con­cerns of the ex­cise depart­ment re­gard­ing pil­fer­age and boot­leg­ging but would not want cus­tomers and restau­rants across the city to suf­fer. He says, they had flagged the is­sue and given reg­u­lar rep­re­sen­ta­tions to ex­pe­dite the process. “Our del­e­ga­tions have met the ex­cise com­mis­sioner and also deputy CM Man­ish Siso­dia,” he said.

Mean­while, one restau­rant owner said he had been sent a no­tice by the ex­cise depart­ment ask­ing for the rea­sons for dip in sales this year as com­pared with last year. “The depart­ment has sent a no­tice to many restau­rant own­ers ask­ing for rea­sons for de­cline in sales and asked us for re­me­dial mea­sures we will un­der­take to boost the growth to 20 per cent. We would re­quest the depart­ment to take the lead by mak­ing im­ported liquor avail­able,” he said, wish­ing to re­main anony­mous.

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