With barely two weeks left in the lapse of the current excise policy, the Chandigarh administration has not even initiated the process to frame the new policy 2014-15.
The current excise policy is valid till April 30.
On Chandigarh administration’s request, the Election Commission of India (ECI), on March 31, had granted permission for framing and announcing of new policy during the period when model code of conduct was in force till the end of the Lok Sabha election. A similar request was turned down by the ECI in 2009.
Despite getting a nod from ECI, the administration has failed to even start the process so far. Sources reveal that if the new excise policy is not framed in time, the administration will be forced to extend the old policy, which will lead to heavy losses.
UT assistant excise and taxation commissioner RC Bhalla acknowledged that they were left with little time to frame the new policy. He maintained that the department had written to the higher officials seeking clarity on certain issues.
The new excise policy of Punjab government came into force from April 1, in which the state government reduced the rates of liquor, thus putting pressure on Chandigarh administration to follow suit.
Punjab, in its new policy, announced to increase the number of licensing units and reduce licensing fee.
Last year, the administration had increased the excise duty from 20% to 300%, and assessment fee by 33%, thus pushing the liquor rates higher. The administration has incurred a loss of around ` 60 crore due to as many as 90 unsold vends, despite repeated attempts. For attracting bidders, the department had even reduced the reserve price of vends by 30%.
To overcome the loss incurred due to closure of liquor vends operating from pre-fabricated structures, the excise and taxation department had decided to request the administration for assigning separate locations for allocating space for liquor shops in place of vends, which were being operated from fabricated structures.
After the excise policy 2013-14 came into force, the administration was forced to remove the pre-fabricated structures on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court, which were issued in 2012. There were a total of 28 pre-fabricated structures in the city, which were used as liquor vends on roadsides.