Maharashtra liquor excise drops to Rs 3,384 crore from an estimated Rs 6,415 crore
The Maharashtra government has been able to earn only Rs 3,384 crore as excise duty from the sale of liquor in the last four months (April to July 2020) in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
This amount is substantially low as the state needs to generate an average of Rs 6,415 crore every four months to meet its annual target of Rs 19,245 crore.
The state excise department attributed the shortfall to a variety of reasons. “The wine shops have still not fully opened. Even the restaurants have still not reopened,” said excise commissioner Kantilal Umap. “Due to Covid-19 pandemic, many people stopped drinking chilled beer, whose sales took a big hit,” said Umap. However he said that the state government is working out various ways to meet this shortfall and shore up the revenues.
Excise duty is one of the biggest revenues for the state government as it netted Rs 15,434 crore during the last financial year (April 2019-March 2020). This was the reason that the cash-strapped state government allowed opening of liquor shops from May 4. In order to curtail huge crowds at vends, the state even allowed home delivery of liquor.
However, it has still not allowed opening of hotels and restaurants which have been shut for the past five months.
Meanwhile, wine merchants and hotel owners are bearing the brunt of low sales. “Lakhs of migrant workers who left for their native towns were one of our major clientele and this factor has affected our sales substantially.” “In addition, people visited each other and indulged in social drinking which has completely stopped now,” said Arvind Miskin, president, Association of Progressive Retail Liquor Vendors, a body of wine shop owners.
There are 15,000 restaurants, 1,685 wine shops, 5,000 beer shops and 4,045 country liquor bars in the state which serve liquor.
Restaurant owners are all for reopening of their establishments. “Liquor revenue will increase substantially once we are allowed to start our business,” said Shivanand Shetty, president, Indian Hotels and Restaurant Association (AHAR).