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Delhi loves its high: No dip in liquor sales in capital post demonetisation


The Centre is high on the success of demonetisation. The Opposition is high on the public anger triggered by the cash crunch. And people in the Capital are high on liquor despite demonetisation, Delhi government data shows.

Excise department statistics accessed by Mail Today reveal that while alcohol worth Rs 270 crore was sold in the city in October, the sale next month was almost identical – at Rs 269 crore – though Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a ban on high-denomination banknotes on November 8.

Officials said there wasn’t much growth in the sale this year due to excise policy switch. “People take around 15-20 days to renew licences and then new liquor orders come to the market. Last year, this began on July 1 and this year it was from October 16,” said a source.

“It means that last year October and November were very good months. In 2016, the new licences were issued and many were renewed on October 16, that’s why the figures are not comparable with last year.”

The Delhi government has not increased the excise duty for the second consecutive year and retail prices of liquor brands have also not been significantly raised this year. But as per the 2016-17 policy, authorities will not issue any new licence for opening of liquor shops in the city. “Wholesalers and retailers stock a lot of merchandise in advance. So, we will have to wait till next month for more accurate post-demonetisation data and results to come in,” said an official.

Retail licence for liquor once issued in Delhi is automatically renewed every year unlike in many other states where it has to be issued afresh annually.

Sonu Saxena, who runs a liquor shop in east Delhi, said, “No dip has been recorded in sale of liquor in the month of demonetisation. But the difference is that earlier we used to get payments through cash, but after demonetisation 90 per cent of the payments are happening through bank cards and just 10 per cent through cash. However, sale of international brands has gone down.”

Delhi government’s data show there are 704 restaurants with bar licences and 399 mall shops with liquor licences in the city. The number of government-run vends stands at 350.

An excise official said, “Nowadays, 90 per cent of the revenue is coming from premium brands in the Indian-made foreign liquor category and the sale of international brands is not that high.”

A new policy also empowers mohalla sabhas to shut existing neighbourhood stores if there are complaints of “nuisance”. A wholesaler told Mail Today, “Beer, a summer favourite, did not do too well in October and November but the sale of other liquor was good. However, winter is a time when buyers’ focus is on liquor and wine, so we don’t expect beer sales to shoot up. Wine is obviously not the city’s first choice.”

Source: India Today

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