The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray with recommendations for the phased resumption of business — from distillery to wine stores — given the revenue and employment implications for the state.
However, Vinod Giri, Director General of CIABC, told Moneycontrol that given the higher number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, if the government is unable to open liquor shops it should at least allow online delivery of alcohol.
He also mentioned that West Bengal and Meghalaya have already started the online delivery of alcohol.
“What has compounded the problem for the alcoholic beverage industry is the fact that excise policy for many states come to an end on March 31. Prior to that date, there are several statutory requirements that ought to be met by companies for them to keep continuity of operations,” CIABC said in its letter to the CM.
“Tax on alcoholic beverages is one of the most important sources of revenue for state governments, and is vitally required in fighting coronavirus spread,” the letter said.
The alcoholic beverage industry is one of the largest contributors to the Indian economy. It contributes almost Rs 200,000 crore by way of various taxes, sustains livelihood of nearly 40 lakh farmers, and employs nearly 20 lakh people directly and indirectly.
Key among CIABC’s recommendations for the phased restart of retail liquor stores include:
• Retail licenses granted for the year 2019-20 which expired on March 31, 2020 should be extended until June 30, 2020.
• Shops outside identified COVID19 hotspots should be allowed to open in following phased manner. Keeping shops open for longer is to help spread customers. From April 15 to May 15 – from 9 am to 11 pm. From May 15 to June 15 – from 11 am to 11 pm.
June 15 onwards – normal timing.
• Shops should be permitted to sell stock purchased or ordered in 2019-20 till stocks last.
• No demurrage should be charged for stock lying in government retail shops until June 30.
• No retail shop should be manned by more than two salesmen.• No shop should permit more than two customers if it’s a walk-in shop or one customer if it's a single-window shop. All shops must make circle markings outside for customers to stand.