₹2 crore licence fee collected as Chandigarh bars reopen
The UT excise and taxation department collected around ₹2 crore on Tuesday in liquor licence fee after the administration allowed bars to open for the first time in the city since the Covid-19 lockdown on March 24.
Many hotels, restaurants and bars could not serve customers as payment for licences and assessment fees (excise levy) on liquor cases, which is mandatory before sales.
“On Tuesday, 50 establishments paid the fee with more than Rs 2 crore deposited with the department. In the next few days, we expect most license holders to pay up,” said RK Chaudhary, assistant commissioner, excise and taxation.
“It will take some time before most of the establishments start serving liquor to patrons. They have to first deposit licence and assessment fee and buy fresh stock,” said Arvinder Pal Singh, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Chandigarh.
The liquor licence has to be renewed every year with fees ranging from ₹4 lakh to ₹15 lakh per annum depending on the scale of the establishment.
The assessment fee is charged on cases of alcohol, ranging from around ₹300 for beer to ₹3,000 for whiskey.
“After depositing the assessment fee with the excise department, an establishment gets the permit to sell liquor. The fee is submitted online, but on Tuesday we could not pay up because of the glitches in the department’s e-permit site. We were told it would take some days for the site to be restored,” said a restaurant owner requesting anonymity.
FEE FOR SEVEN MONTHS BEING CHARGED
Notably, the administration has decided to charge the licence fee or a shorter term. “The excise policy 2020-2021 mentions fee rates for nine months. But the administration has decided that the department will consider the day on which the bars open, that is September 1. So we are charging money only for seven months now,” said Chaudhary.
The excise department has set up a special desk for a smoother process to deposit the fees. “We have deputed special staff and are ensuring that the process is completed quickly,” said Chaudhary.
Seeking more relief from the administration, industry representatives want relaxations in payments. “We have requested the administration to allow deposition of license fee on instalments. The sector is going through tough times and the hospitality sector has been hit hard because of the pandemic,” said Singh.