Lower liquor prices in Punjab cause slump in sales in Chandigarh
Within days of cut in liquor prices in Punjab under its new excise policy, contractors in Chandigarh are reporting 50% drop in sales
Cheaper booze in Punjab has left the liquor contractors in Chandigarh in red, as Bacchus lovers have turned to neighbouring Mohali for their liquor fix.
After the recent cut in liquor prices in Punjab under its new excise policy, liquor vend contractors in Chandigarh claim their sales have declined by 40% to 50% within days and unless, the tax rate in Chandigarh is brought on par with Punjab, the slump in their sales will continue.
“The new liquor rates in Punjab have taken away our customers, which is causing huge revenue loss and making the business unviable,” said Kulbir Singh, a member of the Chandigarh Wine Contractors Association.
“Due to higher tax burden compared to Punjab, the contractors in Chandigarh have to buy liquor at much higher rates, which translates into more expensive liquor for customers in the city,” he said.
Border vends hit hardest
While over the years, it was Chandigarh vendors who gained customers from Punjab due to cheaper liquor in the city, the situation has now changed dramatically.
The liquor vends in the areas bordering Punjab and Haryana traditionally always garnered much higher prices than the vends located in the interior areas of the city. But now, they are suffering the biggest losses.
In the auction held in March this year, a liquor vend in Dhanas, bordering the Mullanpur area of Mohali, raked in the highest-ever bid of ₹12.78 crore.
Even in the past two years, this vend had fetched the excise and taxation department highest bids until then.
The vend in Palsora, also near Mohali, got the second-highest bid of ₹11.61 crore in this year’s auction. Similarly, vends in Mauli Jagran, Dhanas, Sector 61 and Sector 47 also raked in high bids due to their proximity to Mohali and Panchkula.
“Now, these most-expensive vends are reporting the highest level of losses. Their sales have dropped by more than 50%. Instead of people from Punjab visiting these vends, as was the case earlier, Chandigarh residents are travelling to neighbouring Mohali vends,” said Singh.
No headway in talks with UT admn
A meeting of the contractors’ association with the UT officials on Thursday remained inconclusive. The contractors offered some options to the officials to resolve the problem. One option is to issue a fresh excise policy for the rest of the year after slashing the tax rate on different categories of liquor.
On Wednesday, following a demonstration by the liquor contractors, the deputy commissioner had constituted a committee to look into their concerns.
Singh said, “We have requested the officials to review the excise duty to match or provision better pricing than Punjab. This will not be a relaxation for vendors, but will rather benefit customers. With competitive prices, inflow of liquor from neighbouring states will also be controlled.”
Another meeting with UT officials is scheduled on Monday.