Liquor consumers- Old wine in new bottles

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Photo used for indicative purpose only. Courtesy Internet

Though the state government has scrapped HP Beverage Corporation to revert back to the old system of liquor distribution, yet the consumer is not going to benefit of it. As evidently liquor prices are going to remain almost at par (to ongoing year) for the consumer. The new government though claims to have riddled away with retailer issues by reducing license fee in this new policy and fixing a maximum retail price. But fact remains that with the increase in Minimum guaranteed quota even this year , liquor price would remain as high even on ‘Maximum retail price’ in 2018-19 as it was when there was “Minimum sale price’ in 2017-18. The minimum guaranteed quota in 2018-19 is 21000000 proof liter for country liquor and 19000000 proof liter for foreign. In 2016-17 it was 1972586 for country liquor and 16890491 for foreign liquor.

The state government though has relaxed the condition of paying 100% advance against minimum guaranteed quota to 85%, stated a liquor retailer. But this condition would not make any difference, he added. “As even in 2017-18 the primary reason why retailers raised the price bar was that their minimum guaranteed quotas were fixed in an unscientific manner”, he added. Which made the business nonviable for most and thus were left with no other option than to price hike for recovering the investment, he added.

“Except for beer, I don’t think so any other major price cut down is going to take place, this year,” informed the retailer. He said the increase in excise duty per proof liter has increased and would effect, even if other conditions have been relaxed a little bit. “Thus rates might just remain the same as last year,” he affirmed.

As the new structure by the new government provides nothing for the benefit of masses, the only respite which comes forward is for the liquor retailer. “Now at least we can be sure to get the stocks any time 24X7,” added Dheeraj. He said orders to the corporation could only be placed during a fixed duration of time. And even payments were an issue. “As first you would send the requisition, thereafter a demand draft of 100% payment, and then if stocks were available would get the supply. However now, if X L1 does not have a particular stock, then Y L1 would supply it, “claimed Bhakshi. Therefore it becomes open market with a variety of range in every liquor store.

Even though the names of different fee structures have been rechristened in this new liquor policy of the BJP run state government. But for sure the consumer is once again ignored, while preparing it. Though the state government claims that the new policy aims at balancing the aspirations of citizens, consumers, manufactures, suppliers, bottlers, wholesalers, retailers and the Government and major emphasis has been laid on streamlining the supply of liquor from manufacturers to the wholesalers and to the retailers, stated the Pr secretary excise and taxation.

But clearly a study into the new policy reveals, that the primary interest of the state government in the policy has been to garner increased revenue for the loan burdened state without even looking into the consumer apathy.

The Beverage Corporation is being closed down and the old system of liquor distribution is being adopted. Yet for a liquor consumer, it is more like ‘Old wine in a new bottle” as they are likely to find no respite in pricing besides being the highest in percentage of tax paid per purchase to any government.

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