After Punjab, Chandigarh might lower booze rates

By Vinod Kumar for Times of India on March 17, 2018

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CHANDIGARH: The much-talked about excise policy of the Punjab government has put the UT excise and taxation department in a quandary. With the existing excise policy lapsing on March 31, the UT excise and taxation department is working on framing a new policy.

The officials of the department on Friday held a meeting with UT excise and taxation commissioner Ajit Balaji Joshi to discuss the policy framed by the Punjab government and factors which they need to consider before finalising their policy.

The Punjab government on March 13 had announced the excise policy for the next financial year, in which it charted out plans to slash the prices of vends, put a check on cartelisation of the liquor trade and keep liquor prices under control. Under the policy, the Punjab government has reduced the group size from Rs 40 crore to maximum of Rs 5 crore, substantially bringing down the investment required for buying vends. The move has emerged as a setback to UT which was earlier planning to increase the reserve price and other fees.

The Punjab government has also decided to introduce the concept of granting each license on a minimum guaranteed revenue basis comprising of fixed license fee and excise duties to be charged on minimum guaranteed quota. The Punjab government will also allot vends through draw of lots. Satya Pal, president of Chandigarh Wine Merchants Association, said the UT excise and taxation department will be helped in framing their policy keeping in mind the policy framed by the Punjab government. “To attract liquor traders to invest in Chandigarh, UT excise department will have to frame their policy keeping in mind steps taken by the Punjab government,” said Satya Pal.

He further said that if the department decides to replicate existing policy then they will struggle to sell their vends. “Liquor traders operating in Chandigarh will prefer to invest in Mohali if UT decides to hike reserve price and other fees,” said Satya Pal.

Over the years, UT has been consistently increasing the liquor rates. Despite the rise, the liquor rates in city are less than those prevailing in Punjab and Haryana. Officials of the UT excise and tax department on Friday held a meeting to discuss the Punjab government’s new excise policy.

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