While over 30 per cent liquor shops had zero sale Wednesday as fresh stock could not be supplied to several contractors, those with old stock made a killing in Haryana as the vends opened up for the first time in the lockdown.
State officials said that the shops which did not record sales were primarily the ones who had taken new contracts beginning April 1. “No supply of liquor could be made to their shops because the formalities are yet to be completed for them. They will be able to function properly only from Thursday after delivery of stock to them,” said Master Jogender Singh, a liquor contractor from Bhiwani.
However, sources in the department said that those with pending stock kept selling it secretly during the lockdown. “Many among these contractors too had already sold their entire stock of liquor. Today, when vends were opened officially, they had not liquor to sell,” says a source in the department.
On the other hand, those liquor contractors, who had stock, sold liquor at higher rates.
“They can sell the liquor at the rate they want as there is no limit of maximum prices in Haryana. We have only minimum retail price which is fixed to avoid competition among the contractors to sell the liquor at lowest rates during normal days,” said officials.
Benefiting from this norm, liquor contractors sold the alcohol at price of their choice.
“If we have five boxes to sell and there is demand of ten boxes, then it’s natural that we will charge as per our choice. Delhi has limit of maximum retail prices of liquor but Haryana has not such limit. Haryana has imposed ‘Covid cess’ on all liquor bottles ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 50 which is much lower in comparison to Delhi,” said a liquor contractor. But liquor vendors justified higher charges saying they have faced huge losses during past 40 days after the liquor vends were shut following the lockdown.
Haryana Principal Secretary (Excise and Taxation) Anurag Rastogi told The Indian Express that the sale of liquor was smooth on the first day of reopening of vends. “It was our effort that whenever the liquor vends are opened there is proper system and norms of distancing are followed. We did not observe the problems in Haryana which were witnessed in Delhi on the first day of reopening of the liquor vends,” said Rastogi.
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