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Delhi’s excise policy gets a step closer to reality



NEW DELHI: A group of ministers was constituted by the Delhi cabinet led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday to give a final shape to the excise policy that has been in the works for the past few months. The government wants to develop the ambitious policy to make it a model for the entire country. The GoM would be chaired by deputy CM Manish Sisodia.

The new policy is expected to ensure transparency and ease of doing business and also secure a steady growth of government revenue. Delhi government in a statement said the policy would be developed on the lines of the “revolutionary model of education”.

The committee includes health and industry minister Satyendar Jain and law and transport minister Kailash Gahlot. The GoM would examine all aspects of the current system and consider the report of the expert committee and suggestions received from all stakeholders and the general public to give a final shape to the policy in the coming weeks.

The expert committee had been constituted in September 2020 to suggest reforms in the liquor trade so that quality could be improved and revenue generation boosted. It also examined the avenues of simplifying the liquor pricing mechanism, malpractices and evasion of duty, equitable access to supply and transformation of the trade commensurate with the changing stature of the capital.

The recommendations included reducing the legal drinking age from 25 to 21 years, allowing bars in restaurants and clubs to remain open till 3am, reducing the number of dry days to three from the current 25 days, permitting service in open spaces, lower area restaurants, clubs and hotels. Due to the high drinking age in the capital, many people visit Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad and other NCR towns, which also results in loss of revenue to Delhi government.

The current annual excise revenue of Delhi is Rs 5,068 crore. The committee projected the revenue to rise to Rs 7,651 crore post introduction of the reforms. It also outlined that entrants to the legal drinking age would increase by another 2 million in the next five years, which would lead to higher consumption of liquor. Excise reforms were needed to cater to the demand.

After the recommendations of the committee were put in the public domain, the government received over 14,000 suggestions from stakeholders and the general public. The GoM will scan the suggestions and incorporate them into the final policy.

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