New Delhi: Delhi returned to the old excise policy regime within a year on Thursday with the opening of nearly 350 government-run liquor vends and exit of private players from retail business, even as liquor lovers rued the absence of their favourite brands as well as discounts.
Excise department officials said brand registration is an ongoing process and more will be available in coming days.
“The day one of policy transition was satisfactory with nearly 350 government undertaking vends opening across the city. In the last 15 days, we registered around 400 brands and some more were registered even today.
“This will ensure all the popular brands back on the shelves in coming days as it takes time as supply follows production and dispatch after a brand is registered,” said a senior officer from the excise department.
The department has so far issued 422 retail licences to four Delhi government undertakings — DTTDC, DSIIDC, DSCSC and DCCWS — that have been directed to open 500 vends in the city in September. A total of 700 liquor vends are planned to be operationalised by the four corporations by end of the year.
The return of old excise policy, which was in force before November 17, 2021, also means that discounts offered by private vends on liquor brands and schemes like one plus one free have become a thing of the past for Delhi.
A liquor lover in Laxmi Nagar, Rajnish complained about no rebates or schemes being offered by the government vends. “Earlier I used to spend less and have more. Now, I will have to spend more to get my daily fix,” he said.
Excise officials said teething troubles are expected to persist for some days but liquor supply and brand availability will improve in the coming days. The stock of over 40 lakh alcohol bottles has been arranged by the department to meet the demand amid expectations of a sluggish sale of around 12 lakh bottles per day in July. The demand had scaled to 15 lakh bottles per day in August, the officials said.
Vinod Giri, Director General, Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), said initial days of switching back to the old excise policy is not going to be easy. Many L1 licensees (wholesalers) are in place and number of retail vends is likely to reach 500 within a month, Giri said.
“Stocks are already filling up in retail. However, consumers may find some popular products, especially imported ones, missing on shelves as they are yet to register, nor is there a clarity when will they register,” he said. “This will impact hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants where such products are popular. Prices will also go up as discounts are not permitted,” Giri added.
The Excise Policy 2021-22, implemented on November 17, 2021, has been withdrawn by the Delhi government amid allegations of irregularities in its implementation. Out of 849 private vends issued licences under the policy, about 250 were functioning that closed down on Wednesday.