With the Punjab and Haryana high court directing the state excise department to amend the liquor vend policy against procuring alcohol from only a select group of licensees, liquor contractors in the district operating at medium and small scale have breathed a great sigh of relief.
In a fix over the policy earlier, they had alleged it was framed only to favour few big brands in the liquor business, thus encouraging monopoly.
Once implemented, the contractors will no longer have to be dependent on (super dump) L1-A licensees. The directions have brought cheers among liquor-vend contractors, but it still remains to be seen when and in what measure the benefit gets translated.
A liquor-vend retailer, Harish Chawra said though the HC had given the nod to invite fresh applications on Thursday, it still remained to be seen when the directions will actually come into effect.
“If implemented to its full capacity, it will have positive bearing on the liquor-vend retailers. As of now, liquor contractors are worried as the L1-A licensees have stalled releasing stocks till the fresh move comes into effect. An average liquor vend contractor will be reaping a margin of around `400 on a whisky carton and `200 to `250 on a beer carton,” he said.
Another retailer Rakesh Dhamija said the move not only will discourage monopoly in the liquor business, it will also give retailers adequate opportunities to reap maximum benefits, which can rise up to 15%.
“With the current policy in place, retailers used to face harassment as they were dependent only upon the L1 licensees, therefore taking a toll on their profit margins. Earlier, we were offered discount for making cash payments, and sometimes, stocks were released on credit for up to two months. There are currently 400liquor vends in Ludhiana, which are divided in 30 groups,” said Rakesh.
Earlier, when customary auctions were called for liquor vends in March, the excise department’s bid to streamline the multi-crore liquor business in the state by putting in place a transparent supply chain process has not gone down well among wholesalers (liquor contractors) and retailers. Liquor contractors alleged a bigger nexus (political influence) is in place between the ruling government officials and big liquor brands.