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Karnataka mulls framing law to sell liquor online



BENGALURU: This news could make tipplers raise a toast. The government is thinking of framing a law on the lines of what Maharashtra tried recently — enabling online sale and home-delivery of liquor in the state.

Officials from the excise department, who have mooted the proposal, believe the move will help boost excise revenue and curb cases of drunk driving.

Though Maharashtra backtracked on its plan following protests, Karnataka is yet to take a final call. “We’ve got requests and are examining them. We will discuss the idea with the CM, who holds the excise portfolio, before taking a final call,’’ said ISN Prasad, additional chief secretary, finance department.

B Govindaraj Hegde of the Federation of Wine Merchants Association, Karnataka said: “Excise department officials held two rounds of meeting with different stakeholders before mooting the proposal. They plan to meet representatives of wine merchants’ association one last time for their feedback.”

A senior excise official said it would benefit both the state exchequer and consumers. “While the government can earn more revenue with increased sales, customers can benefit as e-commerce firms will buy liquor in bulk and sell them at discounted rates.”

Industry sources say if Kumaraswamy agrees to the proposal, it will fetch the alcohol industry an additional Rs 1,500-Rs 2,000 crore revenue, as it is expected to be a huge success in Bengaluru, where people have got accustomed to home delivery.

The move could also be a game-changer for retail wine merchants as several e-commerce firms like Amazon and Flipkart are expected to enter the business and provide a platform for them.

Retail wine merchants, however, are not too happy with the idea. “This may check drunk-driving cases, but it will lead to underage drinking and domestic unrest. How will excise officials ensure the buyer is above the legal drinking age while s/he is transacting online? Moreover, only select wine merchants may benefit from this as ecommerce firms will provide business to just one wine shop within a radius of 1.5 km of the delivery address,” Hegde said.

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