The Delhi government’s proposed excise policy for 2015-16 may open the gates for 24-hour restaurants and bars, giving the capital’s nightlife a facelift.
“The policy will come into effect subject to Cabinet approval. It proposes slashing the annual 24-hour excise licence fees by 45 to 60 per cent for restaurants and bars inside hotels or motels,” sources told The Indian Express.
Along with slashing the fee, the policy also proposes doing away with prerequisites for a 24-hour excise licence, to serve alcohol in restaurants, such as a tourism licence, police registration and fire clearance, said sources.
According to sources, the proposed policy is aimed at encouraging more and more restaurants located in seven-star and five-star hotels and motels to run round-the-clock. This, authorities feel, will aid tourism and enhance the restaurant business.
“Procuring a 24-hour licence under the proposed policy will enable restaurants and bars in five-star and seven-star hotels, as well as many others in motels in Paharganj, Shahpur Jat and Chandni Chowk run all night,” said a source. According to government data, there are about 150 restaurants and bars in hotels that are five-star or above and about 300-350 such joints in motels in Delhi.
The 24-hour license, sources claimed, was not too popular earlier as it attracted an annual fee of Rs 40 lakh for restaurants and bars in hotels that were above five-star. These hotels did not have too many visitors through the night and, therefore, did not find the licence necessary, said sources.
“The closing time for restaurants and bars is 1 am. However, many restaurants had approached the excise department seeking four-hour extension licences as the police would not allow them to continue service after 12:15 am. Instead of issuing an extension of four hours, the excise department thought it would be better to make the 24-hour licence more feasible for restaurant and hotel owners,” said a source.
The annual 24-hour excise licence fee in the existing policy, sources said, was Rs 40 lakh for seven-star hotels, Rs, 30 lakh for five-star and deluxe hotels and Rs 20 lakh for motels. The new policy envisages a fee of Rs 12.60 lakh for seven-star restaurants of less than 75 seating capacity and Rs 16.80 lakh for seating capacity above 75.
Similarly, for restaurants and bars in five-star and deluxe hotels, the annual fee for the 24-hour liquor license will be Rs 10.50 lakh for less than 75 capacity and Rs 13.70 lakh for more than 75, said sources.
The excise department also proposes to relax various conditions for procuring the licence. Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra Monday wrote to the tourism secretary to immediately do away with the tourism licence issued to restaurants, which is mandatory for procuring a liquor licence.
“The conditions mentioned and the process that is followed causes unnecessary trouble to the restaurant owners and serves no tangible benefits of regulation for the government. As part of our initiative to improve ‘ease of doing business’ in Delhi, we should remove this licence immediately,” Mishra wrote.