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 the wholesalers (liquor contractors) and retailers who are in the business for decades now.
Liquor contractors have alleged that a bigger nexus (political influence) between the government officials and big brands in the liquor business is in place.
The new liquor policy by excise department is devised conveniently to favour only a few big brands “hotshots in liquor business” - who would in turn monopolise the liquor business in the state with a lion’s share under their belt. The fresh policy would escalate liquor prices for the wholesalers (L1 licences) and retailers and in turn will squeeze their margin of profit, said a wholesaler.
The policy would also encourage ‘cash for liquor’ culture in the state, and borrowings in advance (prevalent in the liquor business) would also cease to exist, said a liquor contractor on condition of anonymity, who is in liquor business for more than 25 years.
The question of borrowings was raised by one of the liquor contractors during the excise department’s meeting last week, but officials chose to remain tight lipped over the matter.
Another liquor contractor who is in business for more than 15 years said a slanted approach of excise department with regard to amended liquor policy aims to favor the liquor lobby (bigwigs of liquor business) and pointed towards a bigger government and liquor baron nexus.
As the date for submitting applications for the draw of liquor licensing (contracts) is on March 22 till 5 pm, liquor contractors are a worried lot. The draw of lots will be held on March 27.
Harish Chawra, who has 23 liquor vends under his group on Pakhowal Road from Park Plaza hotel till Lalton village said although the rates of liquor would be slashed after March 27 when the new excise policy would be set in place during auction of liquor contracts (licences), but the business prospects of the local liquor contractors as well as retailers are set to take a big hit with the amended policy in place.
He said there are stark possibilities that only 3 to 4 big brands in the liquor business would bag these contracts and monopolise the market, while rest all of us would be busy collecting peanuts throughout the year.
The application fee for an individual liquor contract stretches up to Rs 70 thousand which is non-refundable.
LK Jain, deputy excise and taxation commissioner (DETC), said that the L1 wholesalers (licensees) would have to be dependent upon Super Dump L1-A licence holders for liquor procurement which could more or less affect business prospects of the wholesalers as well as retailers, but the new policy is aimed at streamlining the liquor business.