Tag Archives: Policy

Kerala Government allows pubs, wine parlours in IT parks, tweaks policy

The Kerala Government has approved setting up pubs and wine parlours in IT parks across the state. The State Cabinet which met recently announced a new liquor policy for the financial year 2022-23 which aims to increase the number of retail outlets in the state to bolster its exchequer. In the last five years, God’s Own Country received `46,546.13 crores through the taxation on liquor.

The government revealed to a RTI that it had collected Rs. 766 crores monthly as tax on liquor which meant that tipplers paid as much as Rs. 25.53 crore as tax on liquor. The highest revenue from the tax on liquor was collected during the period of 2018-19 and 2019-20. A total of Rs. 9,615.54 crore was collected in 2018-19 and Rs. 10,332.39 crore in 2019-20. There was dip in sales of liquor due to the pandemic in 2020-21. The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) posted a loss of Rs. 1,608.17 crore in revenue during 2020-21.

Hence, the government which was toying with the idea of opening up retail vends at different places has tweaked the policy. Now, BEVCO and Consumerfed outlets will be started in those areas which are safely away from populated and residential areas. The demand for allowing pubs in the IT sector has been a subject of debate for some time.

The IT sector in the state was demanding to change its policy on the matter. It is learned that the pubs will have facilities of five-star luxury hotel. The Pinarayi Vijayan government tweaked the liquor policy enabling the opening of more retail outlets and the biggest gainer appears to be the IT parks in Kerala, where special earmarked areas will be provided where IT buffs can have a drink.

Incidentally, the liquor policy of the Kerala government is an annual ritual, when the rules are made for the new fiscal and become applicable from April 1 every year.

The biggest gainer appeared to be the three IT parks in the state, where over one lakh professionals are employed at Technopark, Kochi Infopark and the Kozhikode IT park.

The State Excise Minister MV Govindan pointed out that there has been a long-standing demand from IT professionals for a lack of facilities for recreation. “It has been decided to allow sanction for special licenses to these parks where specially marked areas will be there in the park and facilities will be available for consumption of liquor under strict norms,” said a statement from the Minister.

The government also is giving permission to produce liquor with low alcoholic content or wine from the cashew apple, pineapple, jackfruit and nutmeg. Similar to what Delhi did, Kerala intends to allow buying of foreign liquor from the outlets without queues. The decision to increase the production of liquor in the existing units and launch new units has been taken to address the issues in the production of Indian-made foreign liquor and beer.

The government said that it was taking measures to escalate the production of Jawan rum of Travancore Sugars and start manufacturing at the Malabar distillery.

Highlights of the policy:

• No hike in brand registration fees for liquor selling in cans and glass bottles
• The government proposes to ban sale of liquor in plastic bottles from 2023-24
• The closed outlets will be reopened as premium shops to reduce the rush in existing outlets
• Grant of bar licenses will be only to three-star hotels and above
• Kerala Toddy Industry Development Board will be revived and soon licenses will be issued to operate toddy shops from 2022-23
• Track and trace systems will be introduced for production of liquor and inter-district/intra-range transport
• Beverages corporation will launch liquor-related industries in the state
• All services provided by the Excise department will be made available online from April 1
• Computerisation of foreign liquor outlets
• More vehicles and 100 pistols will be delivered to the excise circle offices of eight taluks
• Mobile app titled ‘Peoples Eye’ to lodge complaints about the trade, stocking and consumption of illicit liquor
• Increase the posts of women civil excise officers
• Appoint 100 youth from scheduled tribes as civil excise officers

Himachal Pradesh new liquor policy aims to boost revenues, while curbing illicit trade

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, under whose chairmanship, the Cabinet met announced that the government intended to collect Rs. 2,131 crore revenue from state excise. This would be a jump of nearly Rs. 264 crore and a 14% jump in excise revenues over the previous financial year.

The policy includes renewal of retail excise vends for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend. The objective is to gain adequate enhancement in government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.

Annually, Himachal Pradesh earns Rs. 1,800 to 1,900 crore from excise, which includes the sale and consumption of foreign liquor brands and country liquor sold in open markets, vends, bars and restaurants. Excise is one of the biggest source after the sale of power, mining (minerals) and tourism in the hill state.

Country Liquor prices reduced

The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees has been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers and they won’t be tempted towards purchase of illicit liquor and evasion of duty will also be checked.  In new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. This step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of existing price.

The fixed annual license fee of bars has been rationalised by abolishing the area specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.

Fixed license fee of bars in tribal areas reduced   

As Himachal Pradesh is known for its tourism, the government intends to provide better facility to the tourists visiting tribal areas and also provide relief to the hotel entrepreneurs, the rates of annual fixed license fee of bars in the tribal areas.

To keep a check on illicit trade and to monitor the manufacturing, operations of liquor, its dispatch to wholesalers and subsequent sale to retailers, it has been made mandatory for all the above stakeholders to install CCTV cameras at their establishments. The government also has imposed stringent penalties to ensure that irregularities detected by the department in liquor bottling plants, wholesale vends and retail vends are curbed. An effective end to end online Excise Administration System shall be setup in the State which shall include the facility of track and trace of liquor bottles besides other modules for real time monitoring.

As per the policy the Renewal fee (non-refundable) for each vend/unit shall be paid @ 4% of the value of vend/unit (MVV) for 2022-23 while filing application for renewal. b) Renewal Fee of Country Fermented Liquor (Lugdi/Jhol) Vends Sr. No. Value of vend Renewal Fee (i) Upto Rs. 1.00 Lakh Rs. 20,000 (ii) Above Rs. 1.00 Lakh upto Rs. 10 Lakh Rs. 25,000 (iii) Above Rs. 10.00 Lakh Rs. 30,000.

The policy said that the Zonal Collectors/District Incharges shall not be allowed to proceed with the conditional renewal of any vends/units. Sub-vends shall be granted to a retail licensee within the State subject to payment of annual license fee of Rs. 8,00,000 or 10% of the vend value whichever is lower subject to the minimum of Rs. 4,00,000. Whereas, keeping in view the issue of smuggling of liquor into the State, the sub-vends shall be granted within a distance of 100 meter from the State border on the payment of annual license fee of Rs. 3,00,000. The sub-vends shall be approved and
granted by the Collector of the Zone concerned.

Fixed License Fee

The fixed license fee on annual basis (including renewal fee) for various Licenses of Foreign Liquor, Country Liquor and Beer per license for the year 2022-23 have been changed.

Type of license Fixed license fee per annum

L-1 (Wholesale vend of IMFS/Foreign liquor/Beer/Wine)Minimum license fee of ₹20,00,000/- for lifting upto 3.00 lakh proof litres. Beyond 3.00 lakh proof litres an additional ₹3.00 per proof litre
L-1A (Storage of Foreign Liquor in Bond)₹2,00,000/- excluding such other fee as may be prescribed
L-1B (i) Wholesale vend of Foreign Liquor to L-1 vend only₹4.25 per P. L. on Foreign Spirit and ₹1.50 per B.L. of RTD Beverages subject to minimum of ₹4,00,000/-
Exclusively for Beer₹1.50 per B.L. subject to minimum of ₹4,00,000/-.
L-1BB (wholesale vend of imported foreign liquor) from outside India to L-1 & L-2 as well as to the Club and Bar license holders.Annual fixed license fee ₹5,50,000/-
L-1BIO (License for space holder in Custom Bonded Warehouse for wholesale of imported BIO brands to L1BB)Annual fixed license fee ₹10,50,000/-
L-1C (Wholesale vend of foreign liquor by distiller or bottler only).₹6,00,000/-
L-1E for export of IMFS for non-manufacturer wholesale licensee for interState sale₹3.00 per proof litre subject to minimum of Rs. 10.75 lakh per annum.

Delhi new excise policy lowers drinking age to 21, only 3 dry days

The Delhi Government on March 22, 2021 came out with a new excise policy which is expected to bring about radical changes in the sale and consumption of liquor in the national capital. The headline grabbing announcement has been the government’s decision to lower the drinking age from 25 to 21; keeping bars and pubs open till 3 a.m and bringing down the number of dry days from 21 to 3, all of which are expected to shore up excise revenues from `5,068.7 crores to `7,651 crores.

The government’s decision to rework the policy was necessary as the 2009 excise policy seemed outdated and the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) had taken away a chunk from the state government’s excise kitty.

The Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia said another important decision taken is that the Delhi government will not run any liquor outlet. Presently, about 40% of the 850 odd outlets in the capital are privately run, the remaining by government. The state-run outlets were indulging in ‘brand pushing’ and there was pilferage in revenues, thus affecting the coffers. This year, the government will also not give licence for opening any new liquor retail outlets, while it will shut down those which are running without licence.

2,000 illegal outlets in the capital

The Deputy Chief Minister said the liquor mafia needed to be checked and mentioned that while the government had approved 850 liquor stores, the liquor mafia has been running about 2,000 illegal outlets and with impunity over the years. “In the last two years, over 7 lakh illegal liquor bottles have been seized, 1939 people arrested.” There was a skewed distribution network – 20% of the areas in the city are over-served, while 58% are under-served, giving room for the liquor mafia to rule.

Diageo welcomes progressive excise policy

The industry has welcomed the new policy. One of them to react first has been Diageo India’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr. Anand Kripalu, who said “Diageo India welcomes the progressive Excise Policy reforms announced by the Delhi Government yesterday. The new Excise Policy keeps the consumer at its heart, enabling their access to good quality brands in significantly safer and enhanced purchase and consumption environments. We welcome the many consumer-friendly measures including bringing the legal drinking age in Delhi at par with neighbouring states, introduction of “age-gating” at restaurant & bars, equitable geographic spread of retail outlets in the State and 100% private retail. The government’s mission to tackle the scourge of illicit liquor trade will ensure safety of citizens while minimising revenue losses of the government.”

New rules for liquor outlets

The new guidelines have factored in the size and location of liquor shops for equitable distribution in the city. The minimum space for an outlet now is 500 sq ft and that the windows of such stores should not face the road. “Most government-vend outlets had a jail-like environment and this would go.” It is the responsibility of the shop owner to ensure discipline and decorum in the premises of liquor shops, ensuring that no public drinking took place either inside or outside the liquor stores. Those below the age of 21 will not be allowed inside liquor stores.

The Delhi government had constituted a three-member panel led by the Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia with Kailash Gehlot and Satyendra Jain as members to formulate the new excise policy. The panel had made several sweeping recommendations, all of which have been adopted by the government.

The Group of Ministers committee suggested allocation of liquor vends through a lottery system whereas the liquor mafia has been lobbying to keep e-auction system where they could use money and muscle power. The recommendations of the committee included:

Registration of Brands

Whiskey – The committee suggested that brands selling below the retail price of `601 per bottle would be registered in Delhi only if the brand and its variants have sold a minimum of 1,00,000 (one lakh) cases each in minimum of five states excluding Delhi which have IMFL industry (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) higher than Delhi and a minimum of 10 lakh cases volume including CSD (Canteen Stores Department) in the previous year all over India, excluding Delhi. For brands with retail price of over `601 per bottle, no sales figures will be required for registration of the brand.

Rum/Vodka – The committee suggested that brands selling below the retail price of `501 per bottle would be registered in Delhi only if the brand and its variants have sold a minimum of 10,000 (ten thousand) cases each in a minimum of five states excluding Delhi which have IMFL industry (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) higher than Delhi and a minimum of 1 lakh cases volume including CSD (Canteen Stores Department) in the previous year all over India, excluding Delhi. For brands with a retail price of more than `501 per bottle, no sales figures will be required for registration of the brand.

Beer – Strong Beer – For Beer brands above 5% alcoholic strength and MRP up to `150 per bottle, would be registered in Delhi only if the brand and its variants have sold a minimum of 10,00,000 (Ten Lakh) cases including CSD, but excluding Delhi, all over India, with registration in at least 5 states.

Lager Beer – For Beer brands up to 5 percent alcoholic strength and MRP up to `150 per bottle, would be registered in Delhi only if the brand and its variants have sold a minimum of 5,00,000 (Five Lakh) cases including CSD, but excluding Delhi, all over India, with registration in at least 5 states. For all Beer brands with a retail price of over `150 per bottle, no sales figures will be required for registration of the brand.

Brandy and Gin – For these two products, no sales figure shall be required for registration of brands in Delhi.

This recommendation has been made keeping in view of the cheap brands being manufactured in Delhi’s neighbourhood, which are owned and supplied into Delhi by persons who are already having a number of liquor vends in the capital. Such cheap brands are sold to hapless consumers over the counter by the staff of the liquor vends, denying them quality products as the owner of the liquor vend earns more by selling his self-made product as compared to other quality products.

Steep hike in Licence Fee

The committee proposed raise of licence fee from `8,00,000 (Eight Lakhs) per year to `75,00,000 (Seventy-Five Lakhs) per year. On the other hand, to ensure that the vend owner does not suffer losses due to the steep hike in licence fee, the committee made another recommendation. Till now, the liquor vend owner used to get a profit of `50 to `100 per bottle but the committee has proposed a profit of 8% from the MRP of the product for the vend owner, which will ensure that the hike in licence fee, will compensate the vend owner.

Vend allocation system to be changed

The committee recommended discontinuation of the practise of auto-renewal of licences. Now vends are to be allotted by lottery and no individual would be allotted more than two vends. This has been done to do away with the existing monopoly and cartelisation in the system as at present, there are individuals holding as many as even twenty vends in Delhi

The committee recommended to raise the number of existing 720 liquor vends in Delhi to 916 for its population of about 2 crores. Mumbai has 1190 vends against a population of 1.23 crores and Bangalore has 1794 vends across a population of 1.93 crores.