Haryana mulls taking over wholesale liquor trade, traders not amused

Haryana mulls taking over wholesale liquor trade, traders not amused

Gurugram: In a bid to curb smuggling of IMFL, the Haryana government is considering setting up a corporation for wholesale liquor trade and has invited suggestions from the public and various stakeholders for a new Excise Policy for 2018-2019, an official said on Friday.

The state Excise and Taxation Commissioner has invited suggestions through post or email at its headquarters in Panchkula, adjoining Chandigarh, by January 15. The policy for retail sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and countrymade liquor will remain the same.

"Though the Haryana government claims that taking over wholesale IMFL trade into its hands through the corporation will curb smuggling, it will, in fact, cause heavy losses to the exchequer. Middlemen will get involved as has been happening in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan," a wholesale liquor trader who did not wish to be named told IANS.

IMFL in the state is currently sold by a single vendor through L1 licence as per the Excise Police 2017-2018.

Currently, the liquor trade in the state is worth around Rs 5,500 crore per annum and it is feared that the government may lose Rs 1,500 crore as there would be competition among L1 licence seekers after the formation of the corporation.

"Authorities handling the proposed corporation may not stock all the brands, depending on profit margins. In that situation, the vendor will have no other option but to buy whatever is available," said a liquor vend owner, adding that it would harm their business.

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The government had recommended formation of seven committees to look into the proposal to set up the corporation.

"The committees will take care of drafting requisite amendments in the relevant Acts and Rules for the corporation and will submit its report by January 23," a senior Excise and Taxation Officer said.

A liquor importer said the move will bring the state on par with others, where the model is functionally successfully. Delhi and Kerala have corporations to handle liquor trade.

Official data revealed that Haryana has an annual quota of 53,108,852 proof litres for 2017-2018, which means 7,867,978 cases or 94,415,737 bottles.

Similarly, the state has sanctioned 89,656,412 proof litres of annual quota for countrymade liquor, which translates to 19,923,647 cases or 239,083,765 bottles.

Figures revealed that till January 10, about 75 per cent of the sanctioned quota had been used.