Chandigarh, September 16
The UT Excise and Taxation Department sealed seven liquor vends late last night over non-payment of licence fee.
An official of the department said three licence holders had submitted the fee, while it was pending in the cases of the remaining four. The official said it was a routine procedure and the vends would be unsealed on receiving the dues.
After implementation of the new Excise Policy 2023-24 from April 1, 18 liquor vends have remained unsold out of the total 95 even after conducting 18 auctions. The last auction was held on July 18, which for the fifth consecutive time, failed to attract any bidder. No bidder had come forward even during the 5th, 8th, 9th and 12th round.
The first auction was held on March 15 and the department has been slashing the reserve price by around 5% since round 3, going up to 50% by round 18.
In the year 2022-23, the department was able to sell 93 out of the total 96 vends after conducting seven auctions.
“This happened due to the Punjab Excise Policy, as there is only 1% duty and VAT as compared to Chandigarh. The licencees of Chandigarh cannot compete the prices of liquor from Punjab state and are currently in huge losses,” said advocate Sachit Jaiswal, who deals in excise and taxation cases.
He said more liquor vends were lined up for closure due to non-payment of licence fee and excess quota.
Liquor contractors said the poor response to the auctions was due to the Punjab Excise Policy. They said VAT in Punjab was 1% of the ex-distillery price (EDP), compared to 12.5% VAT in Chandigarh. They blamed the UT for fixing the quota at 18 lakh liquor boxes a year, which meant unlifted liquor cases will lead to a penalty. The penalty is Rs 900 per case for Indian made foreign liquor and Rs 3,500 per case for foreign liquor. In contrast, Punjab has an open quota with no compulsion.
They have also cited the higher licence fee in Chandigarh for the poor response, which is Rs 6 crore on an average compared to Rs1.5 crore to Rs 2 crore in Punjab.
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