March 12: The new excise policy for the Union Territory of Chandigarh 2020-21 announced recently, Governor of Punjab and Administrator U.T., Chandigarh aims to balance the aspirations of the consumers, manufacturers, wholesalers/ retailers and the Government, with the wine label registration charges reduced from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 7,500 making it possible to bring in more new labels, even as Delhi is reeling under unreasonably high cost of Rs. 60,000 a label, writes Subhash Arora
The Policy will help the State (U.T.) to earn 10% more taxes, appx. Rs. 680 Crores (6.8 billion) compared to Rs. 6.17 billion during the 2019-20 ending March. It is creditable that the policy has been announced well in time before the beginning of the next fiscal year. Union Territory of Delhi will start dilly-dallying for the next few months- possibly till September or even October. Hopefully, this year with the AAP winning the State elections with thumping majority, it will be ready much earlier; uncertainty is not good for business, government or the customers.
Here are a few highlights of the policy for Chandigarh which is generally considered progressive in its thinking and planning:
* To promote low alcoholic contents beverages i.e. Beer, Wine and particularly to boost Indian Wine Industry the license fee has not been increased and kept at Rs. 12000/- for the whole year. Further the label registration fee of wine has been reduced from Rs. 10,000/- per brand to Rs. 7500/- per brand.
* The allotment of licensing units will be made through complete e-tendering system for more transparency and complete online system for issuance of permits to facilitate Trade and Industry has also been introduced.
* The number of licensing units (CL/IMFL) have been increased from 92 to 95. To curb the menace of cartelization and monopolistic practices, a single person/entity will be entitled to allotment up to a maximum of 10 vends only.
* The license fee of the License in form L-2D to promote sale of Imported Wine, Indian Wine, Ready to Drink (RTD) and Imported Beer to be granted to the shops/establishments registered under Goods and Service Tax Act, 2017 has been kept unchanged at Rs. 2 Lacs.
* To promote sale of liquor through departmental stores, there is no change in the license fee of departmental stores which is Rs. 20 lacs only and there is no change in quota which is 3,000 PL.
* To promote tourism in Chandigarh, 5-Star Hotels are allowed to serve liquor round the clock. The licence fee will be increased to Rs. 15 lacs from Rs. 12 Lac and will also allow the facility of Mini Bar for the room occupants.
* Alcometers for voluntary assessment of alcohol level by consumers, have also made mandatory for all hotels and restaurants serving alcohol.
It is interesting to note that a Cow Cess is being levied from 1 April, 2020 at Rs. 5 per bottle of 650 ml of Beer and Rs. 10 per bottle of 750 ml of whisk to be deposited by the wholesale licensees. There is also explicit encouragement for ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ initiated by PM Narendra Modi. The retail licensees will have to maintain cleanliness and hygiene in and around the shop, failing which penalty will be imposed but exact parameters have been left undefined.
However, the pleas of hospitality industry of reducing the legal age from 25 years to 21 years has not been changed in the new policy. Of course, most of the restaurants and hotels are not too concerned for obvious regions, according to industry reports.
Perhaps there are a few lessons for the Delhi government to keep the policy pragmatic and also motivate it to bring out the policy earlier than usual and hopefully making the use of Alcometers mandatory also in Delhi where excessive drinking seems to give an extra dimension to the drivers resulting in fatal accidents.
View the following, with the connectivity to other older Articles:
Unlikely lower drinking age in Chandigarh Policy 2020-21
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