Responding to pleas from a hospitality association, the state Excise department on Tuesday allowed hotels, bars and restaurants to sell their stocks of perishable foreign liquor to wine shops.
In an order issued by Principal Secretary (Excise) Valsa Nair Singh, the department permitted establishments holding FL3 licences to sell stocks of imported beer and wine to wine shops. However, the establishments will have to apply for special transport passes from local authorities in order to complete these transactions. However, under the lockdown rules, hotels, bars and restaurants are still barred from selling liquor to valid permit holders for consumption on premises.
The exemption from the lockdown rules, which have ordered bars, hotels and restaurants to remain shut, will remain in force until the lockdown ends or until stocks last, states the order.
Singh said that the exemption was aimed at ensuring that stocks of perishable liquor do not expire. “We are trying to make it easier for establishments to sell their stocks,” she said.
However, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), described the order as “illogical”. “Why would wine shops want to buy liquor from us when they have greater sales than we do? We will have to sell our stocks to them at MRP or less,” he said.
Kohli added that establishments would be reluctant to get into the process of applying for transport passes. “This order is a knee-jerk reaction to what we had asked for. We will write to the Excise department asking what this order means,” he said.
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