Uttarakhand liquor traders want to surrender their shops amid huge losses
For more than a month during the lockdown from March 22 to May 3 wine shops had remained closed but even when they opened under Unlock 1, the demand has been lower than usual.Updated: Jun 28, 2020 16:49 IST
Amid losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many liquor traders in Uttarakhand have applied to the government for surrendering their licenses to run wine shops.
In their applications, the traders have cited low sales and huge losses along with the ‘pressure’ of paying the Minimum Monthly Guaranteed Duty (MMGD) every month.
There are about 650 wine shops in the state and the sale of alcohol is one of the major sources of revenue for the government which rakes in over Rs 3,000 crore annually.
The government gives licenses on a yearly basis every year to liquor traders.
Baburam Jaiswal, a prominent liquor trader in Nainital said, “The condition of liquor traders in the state is bad since the pandemic started. First, we had zero sales during the lockdown period from March 22 to May 3 and now in Unlock 1.0, the demand is lower than usual. It has hugely affected our earnings.”
Jaiswal claimed that at least 90 liquor traders have applied for surrendering their shops, added, “On top of the losses, we have the pressure of MMGD which is a monthly fixed duty that we have to pay to the state excise department irrespective of the sales we make. It ranges from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 1 crore depending on the sales and the location of the shop. These are the reasons that many of us have applied for surrendering the shops but are yet to get any reply from the authorities concerned.”
Citing other reasons he claimed that earlier the earning share in the liquor sales for the traders was “20 pe rcent which has now been reduced by the government to 14.5% after the Corona tax was implemented on liquor.”
Another liquor trader who wished to be identified only by his last name Bansal, said, “At present, there are several issues being faced by the liquor traders in the state including a shortage of labour in shops and low sales.”
“First we suffered in the lockdown and now when the shops have opened the sales are very low because there are no tourists and almost no weddings in the state. Despite this, we have to pay the monthly revenue to the government,” said Bansal.
He wanted the government to provide liquor traders some respite.
“The government should only take tax on the sales we make and not the MMGD or else we won’t be able to survive,” Bansal said.
The state government in an effort to give some relief to the liquor traders, had earlier decided to waive off the tax on the unsold liquor during the lockdown period in which the shops were closed. The waived off tax is about Rs 230 crore.
However, a few days ago a petition was filed in the Uttarakhand High Court against the government move alleging that the ‘government favoured the liquor traders by waiving off the tax.’ The HC while hearing the petition, issued notice to the government demanding reply on the same in three weeks.