By: Vivek Gupta
To much astonishment and annoyance of residents, liquor vends in the city are literally running out of popular brands as the UT excise department and major liquor manufacturers have failed to fix the ex-distillery price (EDP) of different brands of liquor even after three weeks of vend allotment.
EDP is a price at which the manufacturers supply liquor to vendors who then fix the maximum retail price of liquor after levying government taxes. But till the time EDP is not approved by the department, companies can’t supply liquor in the city.
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What led to this situation is that two major liquor companies — Seagram and
UB group — are adamant on 18 to 20% increase in their EDP. But the department is not agreeing to.
Both the companies have maximum share in the market due to their brand value. For instance, Seagram supplies Blander Pride, Royal Stag and Imperial Blue while UB group supplies Signature, Royal Challenge and MacDowell besides other premium brands including Black Dog.
According to an official in the excise department, in the latest excise policy, it is clearly mentioned that the department will not allow EDP beyond the price approved by the neighbouring states. But these companies are demanding an increase in rate which has not yet been approved. “We are negotiating prices to ensure that people don’t suffer in the end,” he said.
Until now, the vends have been surviving on the last year’s stock besides some local brands.
There are reports about vends illegally selling liquor of Punjab and Haryana to cater to the market demand. A large quantity of illegal liquor was seized on Monday.
Darshan Singh Kaler, a liquor vendor, finds the going tough, with no fresh supply resulting in revenue loss of lakhs every day. “The excise department has already charged the licence fee in crores. Besides, we are bound to lift a fixed liquor quota. In this situation, we will face a huge business loss if this issue is not sorted out at the earliest,” he said.
President of Chandigarh Wine Merchant Association Satpal said that ideally EDP should have been approved before the allotment of the vends.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner S B Deepak Kumar said that he had called a meeting on this issue on Wednesday.