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Soon, permit rooms and bars may be licensed to sell bottled alcohol at MRP



Excise dept working on this proposal to increase revenue as well as tackle illegal sales of alcohol, especially in rural areas

Unlike the last few years, the beginning of 2018 seems to be heralding some cheer for tipplers. For, the Maharashtra state excise department is working towards making the sale of alcohol at permit rooms and bars available at maximum retail price (MRP), with a decision set to be taken about this soon.

Currently, alcohol at restaurants and bars is served only through peg systems, which cost more than twice or thrice the amount at which one can buy booze from wine shops. The new move, officials said, aims to increase excise department revenue and curb illegal alcohol sales across the state.

Currently, as many as 14,000 permit rooms and beer bars operate in the state, compared to a mere 1,700 wine shops. All licences for the latter were issued almost four decades ago, with none given out after 1973. In remote areas, where there are few to no wine shops, illegal alcohol sales are rampant; people also have no option but to shell out extra money at permit rooms, even if they take parcels.

Speaking to Mirror about the development, state excise minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule said, “Our department is working on this proposal — it is not yet finalised. A final call will be taken soon, after looking into suggestions from various sub-departments. Permit rooms and bars sell alcohol through the peg system, so they should have no problem selling it in packed bottles.”

He added, “Licences will be given to these permit rooms and bars to sell bottled alcohol at package prices. An amendment will be made in current rules before implementation. Licence fees will also be charged for conversion, to increase our revenue. Due to the unavailability of wine shops, this will prove a less expensive system for the public, and will also tackle illegal sale of alcohol at the same time.”

Appreciating the decision, Pune Restaurants And Hoteliers Association (PRAHA) president Ganesh Shetty said, “It is a good move to increase alcohol sale revenue by 30-40 per cent. But, it has to be explored in depth — it looks rosy now, but the question of accountability for sales arises. It could lead to complications if we will have to keep additional records for alcohol sales over the counter and pay licence fees for this. There should be no fees for over the counter alcohol sale, or separate record keeping. Then, many will come forward to participate.”

Ajinkya Udane, the owner of German Bakery in the city, said, “People will love this decision, as it allays unwanted expenditure on alcohol. It will also increase revenue for hoteliers, and we could even start deliveries of alcohol at wine shop/ MRP rates along with food. Plus, it may reduce drink driving cases.”

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