Now, CITCO to take charge of Chandigarh’s unsold liquor vends - Hindustan Times
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Now, CITCO to take charge of Chandigarh’s unsold liquor vends

By, Chandigarh
Feb 22, 2024 10:46 AM IST

Chandigarh administration doles out slew of sops for liquor contractors in Excise Policy for 2024-25 after suffering ₹150-crore losses due to unsold vends in last fiscal

Having suffered a loss of nearly 150 crore after 18 of city’s 95 liquor vends went unsold in financial year 2023-24, the UT excise and taxation department has rolled out a slew of relaxations for liquor contractors to attract more takers in the upcoming fiscal.

There will also be a reason for cheer for consumers, as there will be no increase in rates of different categories of liquor in Chandigarh. (HT File PHoto)
There will also be a reason for cheer for consumers, as there will be no increase in rates of different categories of liquor in Chandigarh. (HT File PHoto)

In the 2024-25 Excise Policy announced on Wednesday, which will be come in force from April 1, the UT administration has, in a first, also decided to vest liquor vends with the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Limited (CITCO) if any still go unsold. CITCO was incorporated as a company under the Companies Act, 1956, and at present runs various hotels and petrol pumps in the city.

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There will also be a reason for cheer for consumers, as there will be no increase in rates of different categories of liquor. To promote low-alcohol drinks, licence fees and duties have also been kept same for beer, wine and ready to drink beverages.

For the upcoming year, the department has reduced the number of liquor vends from 95 last year to 84. Despite conducting staggering 20 e-auctions since March 2023, the department had failed to find buyers for 18 vends, translating into a loss of a whopping 150 crore against a target of 830 crore from liquor vend licence fees.

Also, conceding to liquor contractors’ demand for perks akin to those offered by Punjab and Haryana, the administration has slashed the auction participation fee from 3.50 lakh to 2 lakh.

The department has also reduced the reserve price of liquor vends from 486 crore to 452 crore. The fee ranges between 3 crore and 15 crore, depending upon the location of the vend.

Further, the quota of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) has been decreased from 18.51 lakh to 17.39 lakh cases, while that of imported liquor has been increased from 74,000 cases to 1.74 lakh cases. The existing additional excise duty on lifting of additional quota has been waived.

Eye on illegal sale of liquor

The department plans to start the e-auction process from February 26, 2024.

For the first time, the department will introduce a “Track and Trace” system to check illegal sale of liquor. The barcode and batch number will provide all information regarding the manufacturer, date and other content.

A provision has also been introduced in the policy, rendering any person convicted of a criminal offence ineligible for the liquor vend auction. As per the policy, one licensee can take up to 10 liquor vends.

However, Darshan Singh Kler, president of the Wine Contractors’ Association, said the policy will once again prove to be a damp squib, as UT had neither slashed the excise duty nor reduced the VAT. “We told the officers concerned that if these changes are not implemented, 50% of the vends will go vacant in 2024-25. Also, many contractors who were doing business in Chandigarh have already shifted to Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Hillary Victor is a Principal Correspondent at Chandigarh. He covers Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and all political parties.

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