Maharashtra looks to rake in revenues by allowing home delivery of liquor

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on May 17, 2020

Valsa Nair Singh, Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary of State Excise

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only upset the economic development of the country but has also hit the State Governments’ coffers hard. The Maharashtra Government is trying to shore up its revenue by allowing home delivery of alcoholic beverages. The State earns about ₹28,000 crore every year from the sale of alcoholic beverages.

On Friday, the State Excise Department, which is the regulator for the alcoholic beverage industry, allowed homes deliveries by retail shop owners, provided they followed certain regulations.

Maharashtra’s Principal Secretary of State Excise, Valsa Nair Singh, in a telephonic interaction with BusinessLine said the State Government requires revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverage as it wants to use it for providing healthcare in times of the pandemic.

Last year, the Maharashtra Government earned ₹15,800 crore excise duty and ₹12,000 crore sales tax from the sale of alcohol beverages. Both add up to ₹27,000-28,000 crore in revenue. A lot of excise revenue has been lost due to the lockdown. Revenue from State GST, vehicle registrations and property sales are not flowing to the Maharashtra Government treasury, she said.

On the issue of criticism being faced by the State Government for allowing home delivery of alcoholic beverages but not e-commerce deliveries, she said duties and taxes on sale of alcoholic beverages have been one the highest revenues earners for the State Government.

This revenue is required for providing better health care facilities to the citizens in times of the pandemic. Allowing sales is a win-win situation, as more sales will provide more revenue for the healthcare system, Singh said.

She said, on Friday, about 5,500 deliveries were made.

However, in Mumbai city, the liquor shops remain shut on the orders of the Municipal Commissioner. Under the Disaster Act, the Commissioner has the authority to take a call on closing or keeping the shops open, she said.

Singh said the Excise Department has come out with safety and procedural guidelines for the shopkeepers and delivery personnel. The Departmental officers have to endorse the identity of the delivery personnel. In the liquor shops where customers are allowed, only five are allowed at a time.

She said after a week of providing home delivery service, the sales numbers would be computed. Home deliveries have been allowed as it ensures social distancing. The shops have enough stocks and alcohol-making units have started functioning in the third phase of the lockdown, which will ensure that the whole sellers also have enough stocks.

Published on May 17, 2020

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