The West Bengal Foreign Liquor Manufacturers Wholesalers and Bonders Association (WBFLMWB) has appealed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to either reverse the decision of entry into liquor wholesale or retain wholesalers for distribution to retailers. “Currently, there is uncertainty over the distribution model of the proposed state government corporation that proposes to introduce wholesale liquor in the state. With this, direct and indirect job for 70,000 people are at stake,” WBFLMWB Vice-President Viekram Soni said on Wednesday.
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The state has formed a corporation called West Bengal State Beverages Corporation Ltd which will take up the wholesale trade of India Made Foreign Liquor and country spirits from April, 2017. Currently, there are 102 licensed wholesalers of liquor in the state and they procure from manufacturers and distribute it to retailers.
The association was apprehensive that the government may not renew their licenses after March this year forcing their abrupt exit from the trade. Soni said the Chief Minister is unaware of the fact of the business and there could be some groups with vested interests.
“We are trying to meet her and explain the facts, but still we have not got any appointment,” he said. The association claimed that they operate with a wafer thin margin of two per cent and all the distribution cost is factored in that margin, which is not possible for an state corporation.
Citing example of Odisha, Soni said even after three years distribution of takeover by a state corporation, half of their shops remain dry of supplies. In 2015-16, excise collection was Rs 4,418 crore.