Delhi returned to the old excise policy regime today with the opening of government-run liquor vends in the city and exit of private players from retail business. The Excise department claimed that four Delhi government undertakings have readied 300 liquor stores across the city. However, trade experts said around 240 of them would open on the first day after closure of private vends on Wednesday.
Those fond of liquor may also find many of their favourite brands missing from the shop shelves as just 130 IMFL (Indian-made foreign liquor) and 230 foreign brands have been registered so far by the Excise department. The return of old excise policy, which was in force before November 17, 2021, also means that discounts offered by private vends on liquor brands and schemes like one plus one free and one plus two free become a thing of the past for Delhi. Excise officials said teething troubles are expected to persist for some days but liquor supply and brand availability will improve in the coming days and weeks. Stock of over 40 lakh alcohol bottles has been arranged by the department to meet the demand amid expectations of a sluggish sale of around 12 lakh bottles per day in September. The demand had scaled to 15 lakh bottles per day in August, officials said.
Our reporters on ground said many liquor vends did not have adequate stock, and vendors told News18 that liquor would be made available by 2-2:30 PM. Yesterday, some of the private vends having stocks saw crowd outside as they offered schemes like buy one to get one free. Meanwhile, the liquor shop at Jhandewalan has stock available, and people have begun arriving. The vendors at Jhandewalan told News18, “those who were late in applying for a license have difficulty getting stock. But everything will be streamlined.”
Key points to know:
• What’s Due to Change from Today: The Excise department had already notified the private licensees that they will not be allowed in retail liquor sale beyond August 31. People thronged a vend near Welcome Metro station to avail the buy one get one free scheme. According to officials, the rebates and schemes offered earlier under Excise Policy 2021-22 will not be available as liquor stores will be opened by government undertakings from Thursday. READ MORE
The six shops at domestic terminal of IGI airport run by private operators will be shut on Thursday, hampering availability. Liquor will be available at duty free shops of the airport, they said. The number of private liquor vends under the Excise Policy 2021-22 had gone up to around 650 but later, the license holders surrendered their licenses due to different reasons, including restriction on opening stores in non-conforming areas in the city.
• Why Was Excise Policy Withdrawn and the CBI Probe: The Excise Policy 2021-22 was withdrawn by the Delhi government last month, after LG VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in its implementation. READ MORE
• Will Liquor Supply Ever Improve in Delhi? The Excise officials said the liquor supply will improve from first week of September due to opening of more shops. “Currently, there are nearly 250 private shops that will be replaced by over 300 government vends. So there will be more shops and the number will grow further in the coming days as 500 shops are planned to be opened by four Delhi government undertakings,” said a senior Excise department officer. Several government vends will be located in malls and near Metro stations.
The Delhi government undertakings – Delhi Tourism And Transportation Development Corporation Limited (DTTDC), Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), Department of Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (DSCSC) and Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd (DCCWS) – have been given a target to open 700 liquor shops in the city by end of this year, according to the officials.
• A Mobile App to Help: A mobile app mAbkaridelhi developed by the Excuse department will become operational from September providing consumers information about location of liquor stores in their neighbourhood and shop timings. The government agencies have also managed to open shops in New Delhi Municipal Council areas after the civic body had earlier rejected a proposal for opening shops there.
• What Changed Under New Excise Policy? The government undertakings have managed to set up liquor stores at rented premises in G Block Connaught Place, Gole Market, Khan Market, Yashwant Place among others, said the officials. A senior Excise officer said over 360 liquor brands were registered as per the old excise regime that was in operation before November 17, 2021 when the Excise Policy 2021-22 became functional. However, some liquor traders claimed that many popular brands with large sale volume were yet to be registered by the Excise department. “There are likely to be some teething problems as the switch over from private to government vends takes place but the situation is expected to stabilise with more brand registration and more shops opening in coming days,” said the excise department officer.
• Promotion of Beer: With Delhi returning back to old excise policy regime, the city will also see the promotion of draught beer. Excise department has also issued licenses to three to four microbreweries that will start working from first week of September, said Excise officials. “There are plans to promote draught beer by setting up microbreweries in Delhi as there is a significant demand in the segment. More microbreweries will come up in the near future,” an Excise official said. READ MORE
• A Difficult Transition: The government had issued zonal licences to private bidders for 849 liquor vends across the city under the Excise Policy, 2021-22. Nearly half of them had surrendered their licenses in June-July. Vinod Giri, Director General, Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) said despite best efforts by the authorities and the industry, initial days of going back to the old excise policy is not going to be easy. On the positive side, many L1 licenses are in place, around 240-260 outlets are likely to start from day one, which will go up to 500 within a month, he said. Noting that stocks are already filling up in retail, he said, consumers may find some popular products, especially imported ones, missing from shelves as they are yet to register, nor is there a clarity when will they register. READ MORE
“This will impact hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants where such products are popular. Prices will also go back up as discounts are not permitted,” he said. The switchover of liquor sale to all government retail outlets has led to some unforeseen and unwarranted outcomes, he said. These are transition pains out of extremely short changeover period. We hope government maintains intensity to resolve these without any delay, he said.
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