The Delhi government has officially announced the city's new excise policy for 2021-22 after a hearing on a petition filed by the Liquor Traders' Association. The new policy introduces major changes in the city's liquor business. The government called the existing liquor policy 'archaic' and 'highly cumbersome' and points to 'excise' being an important source of revenue. It considers the present excise revenue generation to be insufficient.
The new policies are expected to boost the city's revenue, and the changes are aimed at benefiting both the business owners and the customers.
Extended bar timings in hotels, clubs and restaurants, walk-in experiences for customers at liquor stores, discounts on the MRP at retail outlets, and the promotion of microbreweries, are amongst the major changes in the liquor business in Delhi, as instated by the government.
One of the major changes through the new policy is the promotion of private players in the liquor trade within the national capital. Under the new system, the government will be out of the retail liquor business, and state-run shops such as the Delhi Consumer's Cooperative Wholesale Store LTD (DCCWS) and the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructural Development Corporation (DSIIDC) will begin to close.
To prevent the formation of syndicates leading to overcharging and brand influencing through exclusive arrangements with certain brands, the government has floated tenders inviting bids to set up retail vends.
Every retail vend in the city will provide a walk-in experience for customers, who will be given a wide choice of brands to purchase from, and the entire process of selection and sale will be completed within the vend premise.
Additionally, these retail liquor outlets will be air-conditioned and have glass doors. Customers will not be allowed to crowd outside a vend and buy through a counter.
Another major change stated by the policy document was allowing customers at microbreweries to fill up and take-away their own bottles or growlers with draught beer for their private consumption. Microbreweries can also supply their beer to other bars and restaurants that have a license to serve alcohol.
Bars in hotels, restaurants and clubs have been given the licence to operate till 3 am, while certain outlets, such as those around airports, have been given the licence to operate and serve liquor round the clock. Such establishments are now also allowed to serve liquor in open spaces such as terraces and balconies.
Before the new policy, liquor serving venues were required to obtain a temporary license such as P-10, P-10A, P-11 & P-13 for parties and functions. Through the new policy, the government has introduced a new licence L-38, for banquet halls, weddings/event venues, party places, motels, and farmhouses, with the permission to serve Indian and foreign liquor in all the parties hosted on their premises, in exchange for a one-time annual fee.
There are around 849 liquor vends in the city. Out of the total stores, 276 are privately run under the existing arrangement. Premium retail vends are stated to require minimum carpet area of 2,500 Sq Ft. Additionally, separate licences will be issued for five proposed Super Premium Vends, which are expected to be spread over 2,500 Sq M each. These high-end outlets will need to be stocked with at least 50 imported (B10) liquor brands including wines (BECRS).
Super Premium Vends will be allowed to sell products only above Rs 200 in the case of beer, and above Rs 1,000 in the case of other spirits, including Whiskey, Vodka, and Gin. These outlets will also be allowed to allocate up to 10 per cent of their space to selling miscellaneous products such as cigars, liquor chocolates, high-end art paintings and other merchandise.
New discount options are also open to liquor store owners. Earlier, liquor store owners could not provide a discount on the MRP to their customers but now licensees are free to give their own concession, rebate and discount on the MRP.
The price of liquor brands is going to be decided after taking into consideration the inputs from retail liquor stores and the price of the product in neighboring states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan, as compared to Delhi.
Systematic measures to check smuggling from neighboring states and bootlegging will be taken. This will include the wide and adequate distribution of retail vends with extremely low, or no price differential from neighboring states, thus eliminating any profit margin to promote smuggling.
Edited by Pronoy Basu
Copyright©2022 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today