Punjab e-auction of liquor vends: After tweaking excise policy, state yet to get desired response

After having tweaked its excise policy to placate the contractors who were not coming forward to bid for liquor vends, the Punjab government is still not getting an encouraging response in the e-auction of vends.

On Wednesday, the department put on e-auction 106 groups of vends in Patiala and Ferozepur division. Only 36 per cent groups of vends evinced interest as out of 106 groups only 38 received bids.

The response was better than the previous auction on June 16 when only 14 groups were taken out of 64 auctioned in Ludhiana division.

After that the excise department had tweaked the policy. The changes that were made included the adjustment of security deposit in the instalments and also the last date of paying the instalment every month was extended to the 30 th instead of the 1st. Earlier, the policy had stated that the security deposit would be refunded to the contractors in the next fiscal.

However, the liquor contractors are still not satisfied. “They have tweaked the dates but how does that give us any benefit financially?” Asked a contractor. He said that the issue was that the security deposit was enhanced from 10 to 17 per cent. They were demanding that it should not be enhanced.

“Also, the government wants us to sell beer and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) at cheaper rates and yet they want us to give them revenue enhanced by 40 per cent. How is this possible?” Asked a contractor. He added that the next e-auctions would be worth watching. The Jalandhar division would be e-auction on June 25 now. “You will see how many contractors would show interest.”

The officials of the government, however, stated that the response on Wednesday was not bad, “This is good enough response. The last date of Ludhiana division has also been extended to June 25. By June 30, most of the vends would be taken. The contractors have to keep raising a voice,” an official said.

Another functionary of the government said that the policy was expected to fetch good revenue for the state exchequer, “The target is Rs 9,500 crore in this fiscal. Even if we are able to make Rs 9,000 crore, it is not bad at all.”

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