Under contractors’ pressure, Punjab may amend liquor policy

After getting a lukewarm response from liquor contractors on Thursday as only 14 groups of liquor vends attracted bids out of 64, the Punjab government has decided to make amendments to the liquor policy rolled out a few days ago.

The government, it is learnt, has decided to agree to the contractors’ demands. These demands are the bone of contention between the contractors and the government.

The contractors demand that the security deposits against contracts should be 10 per cent as earlier. However, the government had raised the security deposit to 17 per cent this year. But the contractors were protesting stating that the government was asking them to slash the prices of beer and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) by at least 25 per cent. They said this was not possible because if a group was taken at the base price then they would have to pay at least Rs 5 crore as security.

Also, the contractors were protesting against the payment of monthly instalment to be made by 10th of every month. Earlier, the contractors had to pay the instalment on the 30th of every month. They were also protesting against refunding of security which was to be done in the next fiscal year. The contractors demanded that this should be adjusted in the last instalments of the payment.

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“We have planned to amend the policy. The decision could be out anytime now,” a government functionary said.

If the government makes these amendments, its revenue target of Rs 10,000 crore annually may be affected. The government was eying an enhancement of revenue from liquor by 40 per cent annually. The AAP had in its pre-poll promise assured that it would earn the state exchequer Rs 10,000 crore from liquor itself.

Sources said that these objections were raised by contractors in the pre-bid conference on Sunday. The excise department had already put up the matter before the Chief Minister.

After registering poor response in e-auction on Thursday, the government postponed the last date for auction of groups in Ludhiana division on June 21.

Sources said that Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was not in favour of enhancing the security amount, and slashing the price of beer and IMFL. But then the government had gone ahead.

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