Spirits low in capital as Delhi uncorks new liquor policy

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 07, 2021

Delhites rush to Noida, Gurugram to stock up with festival and marriage season round the corner

For those fond of their tipple, this is a dispiriting month to be in Delhi. All private liquor stores in the national capital are shut till mid-November as the State transitions to a new liquor policy, forcing consumers to run to neighbouring Gurugram and Noida to stock up.

Although government vends are open, with the festival and marriage session round the corner, demand is peaking and consumers are complaining about non-availability of brands of their choice at these outlets.

Take Delhi resident Shubhi Raina, who is getting married at the end of the month. “I am still trying to figure out where to buy liquor for the guests. There are very few authorised shops that keep international brands,” she says.

Rajeev Singh, an entrepreneur who is throwing a small party to celebrate his 50th birthday, said that he could not find his favourite brands in the government vends and finally went to Gurugram to pick them up.

Revenue to rise

Behind the chaos that has hit Delhi’s liquor supply is the State government’s decision to exit the business. On October 1, the licences of all liquor stores expired and only the licences of government vends were renewed in this interim period while it decides on who to award new licences to. Delhi had 849 liquor shops, 276 of them private vends.

According to Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, the Excise Department expects revenue collections to go up to ₹10,000 crore annually from the usual ₹6,000 crore after the new liquor policy kicks in.

However, consumers are sceptical about the revenue projections and irked with the far-from-smooth transition. Brand consultant Giraj Sharma, who runs a blog called ‘State of Delhi’, feels that consumers will end up paying more post the new policy as it talks of fancier liquor stores.

Prices may go up

“Those who get the licence will naturally pass on the expense to customers by raising the price of liquor,” he says.

Also, he points out that the chaos began in September itself when a lot of liquor brands vanished from the shelves of private stores which, unsure about whether they would get the licence, stopped stocking.

“Contrast this to other States when at the time of licence renewal, to liquidate their stock, vendors give huge discounts. In Delhi, when the stores were closing, it was the opposite with rates going up,” says Sharma.

Published on October 06, 2021

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