From April 1,booze well past midnight

Come April 1 and your booze party will easily extend past midnight. In its Excise Policy for 2009-10,which was approved on Friday,the UT Administration has decided to extend bar timings from midnight to 1 am. The policy will be applicable from April 1.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:February 28, 2009 1:37 am

EXCISE : Bars to be open till 1 am; VAT on liquor increased from 4% to 12.5%; registration fee for foreign brands slashed

Come April 1 and your booze party will easily extend past midnight. In its Excise Policy for 2009-10,which was approved on Friday,the UT Administration has decided to extend bar timings from midnight to 1 am. The policy will be applicable from April 1.

To cater to the changing social trends,the Administration has also introduced the concept of Modern Liquor Shops,where tasting sessions will be allowed. The shops will be permitted in SCO/SCF and malls only at a licence fee of Rs 20 lakh per annum for each shop.

Meanwhile,Value Added Tax (VAT) on liquor has been increased from 4 per cent to 12.5 per cent bringing it on a par with Punjab and Haryana. Following this,the minimum retail price for country-made liquor (CL) and Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) will go up by Rs 5 to Rs 20 per bottle and Rs 5 for beer. The move is aimed at putting a check on smuggling of liquor.

There will be,however,no change in excise duty on CL,IMFL and beer. While the number of country liquor vends and their quota will remain as it is,IMFL liquor vends have been reduced from 156 to 152.

Besides,the licence fee for IMFL/CL vends have been categorised into three segments. For the conventional retail sale liquor shops,the fee has been retained at Rs 25 lakh per annum while for liquor vends on temporary structures the fee has been raised from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh. Besides,in order to phase them out,no new licence will be issued for such structures.

To promote drinks with low alcohol content,licence fee on Wholesale Licence of Wine has been reduced from Rs 5,000 per brand to Rs 2,000 per brand. The Administration has also allowed the sale of domestic wines from licensed departmental Stores. Earlier,these were only permitted to sell foreign wines along with imported foreign liquor.

Furthermore,the registration fee for foreign brands of liquor has been slashed from Rs 5,000 per brand to Rs 2,500 per brand.

The private possession limits,meanwhile,have not been changed. At present,the limits are 18 bottles of IMFL/Imported Foreign Liquor,36 bottles of beer,18 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of country liquor. Residents can increase the possession limits by obtaining special permits from the Excise department at an annual fee of Rs 200 for one year or Rs 2,000 for life. To facilitate payment of licence fee,terms and conditions have been relaxed. Licencees will have to pay 25 per cent of the fee within 72 hours of the grant or renewal; 25 per cent by April 10 and the remaining by July 31.

In case of companies,the payment of licence fee has been relaxed to 25 per cent within 72 hours of the grant or renewal and remaining 75 per cent by April 10. Similarly,the procedure for grant of licence to the new entrants has been simplified by introducing the submission of bank guarantee in lieu of solvency certificate.

There is also no change in the excise levies on liquor sold to military establishments.

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