Jan 23: Delhi Excise Department has reportedly received a good response to the recommendations that were uploaded on their website and people invited to give their comments by 21 January about recommendations like lowering legal age, late opening hours of bars, allowing terraces to serve wine and liquor and again allowing department stores to sell wine and beer, by January 21. The feedback comments are being analysed and a Report will be sent to the Delhi Cabinet for approval for 2021-22 excise policy
Reportedly, Seventy-three per cent of the residents supported the excise reforms proposed by the expert committee of Delhi government whereas 54 per cent of the residents supported privatisation of liquor vends as suggested by the expert committee.
The expert committee formed by the Deputy CM, Manish Sisodia in September 2020 had recommended that the government vends should be privatised and gradually, the Delhi State ought to get out of marketing alcohol products. Around 10,000 people sent their comments and feedback.
There seems to be an equal split on the recommendation to reduce the drinking age from 25 to 21 years and making it the same as the neighbouring states of Haryana and UP, thus cutting into tax revenues since many people in the age group of 21-25 go to Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad etc. to drink liquor officially by paying taxes and thus cutting into the revenues of Delhi government.
Also Read: Blog: Delhi Excise getting ready to improve Wine and Liquor Policy
The panel had also recommended reducing the presence of the Delhi government in the retail liquor marketing sector and eventually exit completely. At the present time, 60 percent of the liquor vends in Delhi are owned by agencies linked with the government-like DSIDC and DTTDC.
According to Reports, the government has started analysing the 10,000 suggestions received, with many people favouring the reduced drinking age, opening more private vends, and allowing bars, allowing department stores to sell wine and beer and restaurants to remain open till late night till 3 am," an official said.
The panel has recommended minimising the Delhi government's presence in the retail liquor sector and eventually exit it altogether. Currently, 60 percent of the liquor vends in Delhi are owned by government agencies.
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Though the government has not clarified their stand about reducing label registration charges for imported wines and allowing Online sales, it is unlikely that they would give in at this juncture-this was not in the original recommendations anyway. The purpose of the Report was to suggest ways and means to improve the falling excise revenues from the current Rs. 5,069 Crores to Rs. 7,651 Crores. Online sales could increase the revenue significantly, but no State government-including Delhi would be willing to bell the cat.
It is expected that the department stores will be allowed to start selling wine and beer again after tightening the rules. Additionally, better vigilance by the department may be used to keep the abuse at bay. Similarly, it would have no problem in reducing the number of dry days from the existing 25 to 3-again in line with the neighbouring states, that causes reduction in tax collection. Even allowing the balconies, terraces and outside seating arrangement ought to be approved as it will generate huge revenues and during Covid times, people would prefer to eat outside in the open.
The Report is expected to be sent to the Delhi Cabinet for final approval in 24 days so that it might be incorporated in the excise policy of 2021-22 which comes into effect on April 1. It is hoped that this year, the government has enough time to regularise their affairs and announce the new policy on time-after the current practice of delaying it by several months every year.
Also Read: Delhi Excise Policy 2019-2020 announced with few Changes
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