Patiala peg: Supply demand gap spikes liquor prices

Prices of various brands of liquor have gone up by 25 to 30 per cent owing to shortage of liquor.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: January 25, 2012 3:42:34 am

It is blessing in disguise for the liquor contractors in the state,as due to the strict methods adopted by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to check flow of liquor in these elections,the prices of various brands of liquor have gone up by 25 to 30 per cent owing to shortage of liquor.

“The rate of various brands of liquor have gone up in the state. A box low-end brand of whiskey which was selling for Rs 900 till just a few days ago,is now going for Rs 1500. Another brand of whiskey has gained Rs 500 and is now selling at Rs 2,500 per box even as another high-selling brands is now going for Rs 3,500 instead of Rs 2,900. This is mostly due to an increase in demand and shortage of supply,” said Balbir Singh,a liquor contractor.

Another contractor,requesting not to be named in the print,said that prices of other variants like rum,whiskey and vodka have also shot up. “This is mostly owing to the fact that that earlier,almost all the contractors were keeping more quota than they were allowed by the excise department. On a permit for one truck,often more than one vehicle rolled out of the distilleries with the stock. Now,with EC keeping a hawk’s eye, per permit only one truck is being released. Also,the excise people come and check our opening stock in the morning and the closing stock in the evenings. The supply has dried to a trickle even as the demand has gone up,” he explained.

Gurkirat Singh,Joint Chief Electoral Officer,Punjab confirmed having tightened the noose.

“From now onwards trucks will be allowed to transport liquor from 8 am to 9 pm and if any truck violates this timing,the vehicle along with liquor will be confiscated. This is being done to check illegal flow of liquor,” Gurkirat Singh said.

Sources in the excise department said that contractors are not lifting their quota of liquor from the distilleries as earlier they used to pay in cash before lifting lift the stocks. But now,with EC barring people from carrying more than Rs 2.50 lakh in cash and that too with proper documents,they have been forced to submit demand drafts and are lifting less stock. It is expected that after January 30,the contractors will lift the stocks of their quotas.

“We are keeping a round-the-clock watch on all the bottling plants and distilleries. Movement of trucks is being recorded on CCTV cameras. Also micro observers have been appointed,” Special Chief Electoral Officer,Punjab,Usha R Sharma,said.

The sales have gone down as liquor is in short supply. As per the figures with excise department,as on January 21,the opening balance of country-made liquor was 92.48 lakh bulk liters while the closing balance was 89.44 lakh bulk liters (which means only 4 lakh bottles were sold that day). Similarly,for the opening and closing balace was 54.12 lakh bulk liters and 53.28 lakh bulk litres respectively (which means 1 lakh bottles of various brands were sold). For beer the opening balance was 20.27 lakh and closing balance was 19.93 lakh,thus some 49,000 bottles were sold in the state.

Every day,some 180 trucks drive out of 30 distilleries in the state. Each truck carries 400 cases of liquor,this translates to 72,000 boxes per day. The excise collection increased from Rs 1,363 crore in 2007 to 2,500 crore in 2011. The government aims to mop up Rs 3,190.49 crore from excise alone in 2011-12. But now as the government was aiming at 15 per cent more revenue there could be short fall due to the elections and ECI going so strict.

Excise and Taxation Commissioner Punjab,Venu Parshad said,“It was for the first time that such seizures have been made in Punjab due to strict monitoring.”

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