Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 1
Liquor will now cost more in Punjab as the state government, on Monday, imposed a COVID cess on all categories of liquor, including imported foreign liquor and imported beer.
The state hopes to mop an additional Rs 145 crore through the imposition of additional excise duty.
As a result of this new COVID cess, that will be imposed from June 1, the Punjab Made Liquor (PML) will cost Rs 5 per quart or Rs 3 per pint more; the IMFL to cost Rs 10 per quart more (and a proportionate increase in larger packaging) and Rs 6 per pint; beer prices have been increased by Rs 5 for every 650 ml and wine by Rs 10 for every 650 ml. The ready-to-drink alcohol prices have also attracted additional excise duty of Rs 5 per bottle.
The imported foreign liquor will become dearer by Rs 50 per 750 ml (Rs 30 hike in case of other sizes) and imported beer would cost an additional Rs 7 per 650 ml. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who also holds the portfolio of the Excise Department, said faced with a revenue shortfall of Rs 26,000 crore, tough measures such as additional excise duty and additional assesses a fee on liquor were necessitated.
Even as the government has imposed COVID cess on the consumers, the liquor contractors are all set to get relief from the state government. The Cabinet sub-committee, that has allowed for the imposition of the COVID cess, has also accepted the demand of liquor contractors to reduce the minimum guaranteed quota (MGQ) of liquor to be sold by them by 30 per cent for three months – May to July.
This is being considered by the Cabinet sub-committee on the insistence of the contractors, who say that in the wake of downsized marriages, locked up hotels and restaurants, ban on bars and night clubs, and reverse migration of labour (the biggest consumers of country-made liquor), they will not be able to sell the minimum quota allotted to them.
Official sources also told The Tribune that as a result, the minimum guaranteed revenue (MGR) for these three months will also be reduced.
Other than this, the licence fee for the period between April and May 7, too, are being waived because the liquor vends did not function in the curfew period.
“Though the government is considering reducing the quota for three months, the quota will be enhanced subsequently, so that the government revenues do not suffer,” a top officer in Excise and Taxation Department told The Tribune.
Other than this, the price at which the remaining liquor vends (that could not be auctioned before March 22, when the lockdown began) were to be auctioned has been reduced.
It is learnt that originally, the liquor vends were to be auctioned for Rs 750 crore, which are now being auctioned for Rs 550 crore. A large number of these liquor vends were auctioned on Monday, yielding a revenue of Rs 413 crore, and the auction of remaining vends (for Rs 137 crore) is to be effected on Tuesday.
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