Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has written to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, Health Minister Dr Harsha Vardhan and chief ministers of all states to allow home delivery of alcoholic beverages. Liquor stores and production facilities are currently shut due to the coronavirus lockdown, causing a huge loss in excise duty, the letter said.
CIABC and International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) have asked the government to plan a phased opening of liquor shops outside coronavirus hotspots for a longer span to ensure minimum consumer rush.
The CIABC letter suggested that shops could be asked to fill online applications and pay a license fee for door-to-door delivery.
"Assuming that social distancing will be new normal going forward, government may consider institutionalising home delivery as a separate channel administered online. It is our view that the government may consider setting up its own portal for facilitating home deliveries and/or permit food delivery aggregators to do so," Director-General of CIABC Vinod Giri said in the letter.
The letter further suggested that shops should be given licenses for 3-4 home delivery workers and the government can control the frequency and the amount of liquor being delivered. Consumers can place orders online or through a phone call along with identity proof for age verification.
"Employment has to come back at a certain stage as the livelihood of the people is at stake," Shobhan Roy DG, All India Brewers Association (AIBA) told Times of India. The industry contributes around $20 billion in excise revenue and employs close to a million workers, he added.
"States are strapped for cash. 15 - 30 per cent of a state's revenue comes from alcohol. This is a significant revenue stream that comes directly to state coffers and can help in these cash-strapped times particularly when there is pressure to provide a safety net; Minumum subsistence allowance, free food, free medical care," ISWAI chairman Amrit Kiran Singh said.
The CIABC is the governing body for Indian alcohol beverage producers while ISWAI consists of foreign liquor companies like Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Beam Suntory.