With last year’s excise policy failing to attract bidders for liquor vends, the UT Administration is likely to make changes in the policy for 2014-15 which will come into force on May 1. Although the draft policy is yet to be prepared, sources say the administration may reduce the daily quota of liquor which a vend is supposed to lift and also cut the rates of excise duty for all categories.
Last year, only 103 of the 217 liquor vends were sold out in the first auction held in April. In subsequent auctions, a few more vends were sold. But there were no takers for as many as 70 vends. Officials believe the auctions failed because of the formation of liquor cartels and an unattractive excise policy.
Members for the cartel would bid very high for a vend in order to pre-empt others and maintain their monopoly. Later, they would surrender it. In order to counter them, the Excise Department hiked the earnest money to Rs 35 lakh, and made it mandatory for the successful bidder to deposit 30 per cent of the bid amount within seven days. The remaining amount would have to be deposited within another seven days. Otherwise, the earnest money would be forfeited.
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As for the policy, officials say that the quota of 63 cases of liquor that a vend has to lift daily was “very high and requires reduction’’. Besides, the rates of excise duty on various categories of liquor need reduction.
Chandigarh generally follows the Punjab pattern of excise duty. The Punjab government, in its policy for 2014-15 announced last month, reduced the rates of excise duty. Now, Chandigarh may follow suit.
UT Deputy Commissioner Mohd Shayin says some changes are being contemplated in the excise policy, although directions for preparation of a draft were awaited from the administrator.
Owner of a liquor vend in the city maintains rates of excise duty in Punjab and Chandigarh should be on a par. “Otherwise, there will be smuggling of liquor from one place to the other. Further, it is not possible to sell 63 cases in a day. The daily quota should be flexible and should not exceed 25 cases a day,” he says.