Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, June 10
Quality liquor, including wine, whiskey and beer of imported brands, will now be available in big departmental stores having a minimum 500 sq ft area and an annual turnover of over Rs 2 crore.
These stores can dedicate 10 per cent of their area to liquor. The annual licence fee will be Rs 5 lakh and the departmental store owners will lift the quota from L2 (wholesalers) at the normal rate. Family tourists and women, who are shy of going to liquor shops, will get wine at these stores.
The decision is expected to give a boost to tourism and fetch a revenue of about Rs 4 crore to Rs 5 crore, says Excise and Taxation Commissioner Rohan Chand Thakur. He adds that the policy was in vogue earlier also from 2001 but was discontinued in 2018. As many as 14 departmental stores in the state sold liquor till 2018.
Boozers will have to pay more as the target of Rs 1,829 crore, an increase of 14 per cent (Rs 228 crore), has been fixed for 2020-21, as per the new excise policy. A provision of wine testing facility at wineries and during the wine festival has been created due to the new policy for promoting indigenous wines.
The minimum quota for bars in hotels has been halved from 900 proof litres (around 20,000 pegs) to 450 proof litres (around 10,000 pegs) per year. The policy also provides for the transfer of inter district and intra district quota on the payment of Rs 5 per proof litre to the government, to check smuggling.
The Excise Department could not achieve the target of Rs 1,778 crore last year and the actual recovery was Rs 1,601 crore, a short fall of Rs 177 crore. Due to the lockdown, the department suffered a revenue loss of Rs 200 crore (collected Rs 100 crore against expected Rs 300 crore) in April and May last year.
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