Covid curbs killing business, say Ludhiana liquor vend owners
Covid cess, disproportional quota fee and reduced earnings have liquor vendors at wits’ endUpdated: Sep 06, 2020, 23:42 IST
Liquor vendors, whose businesses have taken a hit due to the pandemic, have demanded that the state government either order a proportional reduction in ‘quota fee’ or allow their vends to function till 11pm. They may move the Punjab and Haryana high court if their grievances are not resolved.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the vends would run from 9am to 11pm. Now, they have to shut shop at 6.30pm as curfew is imposed after 7pm.
The vendors said they were struggling to stay afloat and may have to pull down shutters permanently in the near future unless the decision to close liquor shops at 6.30pm was reconsidered.
The businessmen said the 98 circles in the city had been suffering a combined loss of around ₹1 crore per day due to the curbs. According to the district excise department, each circle has up to four vends. As a condition of their allotment, vendors have to pay the government a ‘quota fee’ per month. Though the vendors’ earnings have shrunk, they have to pay the entire fee.
Earlier this week, a delegation of vendors had also met deputy commissioner (DC) Varinder Sharma and apprised him of their concerns.
A wine contractor, Kirat Singh, said, “The peak time for sales is from 7pm to 10pm but the vends remain closed at the time. We have sought relief from the government. A quota fee is charged for operating vends till 11pm. Since the vends are being shut at 6.30pm, there should be a proportional reduction in fee.”
They said they will also challenge the imposition of Covid cess on liquor as it was not part of the excise policy.
Association leader Varinder Sharma said, “Liquor vendors in Haryana have already challenged the imposition of Covid cess on liquor and we will also do the same as imposition of cess is not the part of the excise policy, on the basis of which the vends were allotted.We will be forced to move the court if the government fails to provide relief in the coming days.”
Deputy excise and taxation commissioner Rajpal Khaira said, “A final decision is yet to be taken . The memorandum of demands will be forwarded to the state government.”