Tipplers in Bhopal who had been enjoying a ‘discount’ on liquor prices from outlets owned by a particular business group were left in cold, after the excise department intervened and put an end to the practice.
Madhya Pradesh has one of the most exorbitantly priced liquor markets in the country and the system of giving discounts had given some ‘relief’ to tipplers.
However, the practice of giving discounts offended other liquor retailers who took up the matter with the excise department, which asked the group that had extended discount to withdraw it.
According to sources, a particular business group that owns about 11 liquor retail outlets in Bhopal introduced the discount system in summer months.
It institutionalized it by giving out a card that had ‘gift house’ printed on it, the card also listed the retail outlets from where the discount can be availed.
“We were getting about 30% discounts on alcohol, provided we purchased more than 3 units. It was a good arrangement and for once alcohol prices in Bhopal were comparable to other parts of the country,” said a regular customer on the condition of anonymity.
Sales in retail outlets owned by the group increased, owing to the discount, which irked other vendors. Sources added that other retail outlet owners who were adversely affected by the discount scheme petitioned the excise department on the matter.
“A meeting of the retail outlet owners of Bhopal was convened by the excise department on November 4. The retailer who was selling liquor below the MSP was asked to not do so as this would adversely affect excise revenue,” said an official of the excise department.
Interestingly, liquor bottles in MP have a Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and Minimum Selling Price (MSP), as per excise rules liquor cannot be sold below the MSP.
“The MSP clause was introduced to ensure that one player does not drive out others by underselling the product. Also, the calculation of commercial tax is done on MSP printed on the bottle,” said the excise department official.
The holders of the discount card who are going to purchase alcohol are now being asked to surrender it at the retail outlet for the last two days.