CITY OF DELHI: GOVERNMENT LIQUOR SHOPS REOPEN TODAY AS PRIVATE SHOPS SHUT
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
The city of Delhi returns to the old liquor retail regime today with the reopening of government-run liquor shops and the exit of private shops run by licence holders after only 9 months in business.
The city’s excise department claimed that four Delhi government bodies have readied 300 liquor stores across the city. However, local media said only about 240 of them opened on the first day.
The four government bodies are Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation, Department of Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation and Delhi Consumer’s Cooperative Wholesale Store.
Officials said the six private liquor shops at the domestic terminal of IGI airport are shut today, but liquor is available at duty free shops in the airport.
Local channel News18 said many brands are missing from the shelves of government shops when they opened, as just 130 Indian brands and 230 foreign brands have been registered so far by the Excise department.
The return of old government regime also means that discounts offered by private shops on liquor like buy-one-get-one-free are gone.
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.
Vinod Giri, Director General of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies, said despite best efforts by the authorities and the industry, initial days of going back to the old regime is not going to be easy.
“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.
He also said there are transitional pains because of extremely short changeover period, he hoped the city government will maintain intensity to resolve the problems without any delay.
Delhi municipal government introduced sweeping changes to privatise its liquor retail system in November last year, with government-run shops replaced by private shops run by licence holders.
At its peak, the number of private shops had gone up to 650, but about half of them handed their licences back in June and July this year, licences were due to be extended on 1 August.
Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into alleged irregularities and procedural lapses in the implementation of the new policy.
Saxena’s recommendation rendered it impossible for the Delhi municipal government to extend the licences, thus causing uncertainties and confusions to licence holders and consumers.
The municipal government announced on 31 July that the existing licences will be extended for a month and the old system of government vending will be resumed for a period of six months from 1 September.
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