Departmental stores may be allowed to sell wine

The government may allow departmental stores to sell wines after they acquire licences from respective state governments. “We are working towards easing regulation on wine production and consumption in the country. Availability of wine would be th...

NEW DELHI: The government may allow departmental stores to sell wines after they acquire licences from respective state governments. ���We are working towards easing regulation on wine production and consumption in the country. Availability of wine would be the first step in this direction.

The government is willing to spread wine culture among people and promote vineyards in the country,��� said an official in the ministry of food processing, who wished not to be named.

Some states such as Delhi, Maharastra, Karnataka and Punjab have already allowed departmental stores to sell beer provided they get a liquor licence. The ministry of food processing along with the department of commerce are of the view that wine should also be treated like beer, which is different from hard liquor such as whiskey and rum. The Delhi government, too, is likely to allow sell of wine in local stores soon.

The two arms of the central government are working on a policy to encourage wine making and its consumption in the country. They are also in favour of having a uniform excise duty regime across the state for wine sector. Excise duty on wines is a state subject and varies from state to state.

To give impetus to wine production and its promotion, the food processing ministry has also set up a National Wine Board to develop standards and promote domestic wine industry, so that they may stand stiff competition thrown by Australian and French wines. Competition from foreign wines is expected to intensify with the recent reduction in customs duties on wines and spirits.

The ministry argues that promotion of wine culture will lead to agricultural diversification and employment generation in rural India. With the growing popularity, wine farmers in Maharashtra are shifting from plantation of table grapes to wine grapes, said the official. India���s wine market, which is 1.2 million cases, has been growing at 40% this year compared with 2007, he added.
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