Delhi Govt’s proposals for liquor discriminatory: Delhi Alcobev Association

“These suggestions, if implemented, would neither augment state excise duty revenue nor ensure equitable access to liquor supply. The suggestions would lead to unhealthy business practices and monopolise and cartelise liquor trade,” the letter all...

New Delhi: The Delhi Government’s excise committee, which has proposed sweeping changes and reforms for the alcobev sector, is discriminatory and will drive out small and mid-sized players from operating and instead favours multinationals, industry body Delhi Alcobev Association which has more than hundred member companies, has alleged in a letter addressed to the Delhi government. “We are directly and adversely affected by the suggestions made by the committee,” the letter states. “These suggestions, if implemented, would neither augment state excise duty revenue nor ensure equitable access to liquor supply. The suggestions would lead to unhealthy business practices and monopolise and cartelise liquor trade,” the letter alleges. ET has seen a copy of the letter.

The excise policy has been drafted to boost revenue from sale of liquor by 50% from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 7,651 crore. The draft policy includes measures such as increasing timings of the bars and lowering the permissible age to drink and bringing it at par with neighbouring states.

Proposals also include discontinuing whisky and rum with maximum retail price of less than Rs 140, increasing criteria for liquor brands to get registered to 10 lakh cases from the existing 60,000 cases in any of the previous two years, and minimum sale of one lakh cases in at least five other such states.


Delhi-based alcobev companies said the policy recommendations are unfavourable to them. “Eligibility criteria only allows brands of four large companies — USL Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Carlsberg and United Breweries to sell in Delhi. All other domestic brands will not be able to sell in the capital as 80% of liquor consumed here is under Rs 500 per 750 ml,” the letter by the industry body alleges.

“The committee has suggested abolishing whisky and rum priced up to Rs 140 on grounds of making quality products available to consumers. Does the committee mean to say all Indian brands presently available in Delhi are not quality products and only if they sell a minimum prescribed quantity in five states or more do they qualify as good products?” an official of a Delhi-based liquor company, requesting anonymity, said. “On one hand, there is a renewed focus on vocal for local products, and on the other hand, this step will kill major Indian brands,” he said.

The International Spirits and Wine Association (ISWAI) which represents MNC liquor makers, on the other hand, said the expert committee recommendations address consumer concerns. ISWAI chairman Amrit Kiran Singh said: “The expert committee recommendations seem to address the concern expressed by Delhi consumers that they do not get nationally popular brands in stores.” Singh said the excise policy recommendations seem to address the problem of non-compliant 'brand pushing' by retail stores in Delhi while ensuring that the state maximises revenues to the state exchequer.
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Delhi is the third largest market in terms of active retail vends across the country, with 720 retail vends, after Bengaluru and Mumbai.
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